Charles J. Hanley
Sat, 05 Jan 2008 23:40 CST
For 5,000 years, great tongues of ice have spread over the 3-mile-high slopes of Puncak Jaya, in the remotest reaches of this remote tropical island. Now those glaciers are melting, and Lonnie Thompson must get there before they're gone.
To the American glaciologist, the ancient ice is a vanishing "archive" of the story of El Nino, the equatorial phenomenon driving much of the world's climate.
More than that, the little-explored glaciers are a last unknown for a mountaineering scientist who for three decades has circled the planet pioneering the deep-drilling of ice cores, both to chronicle the history of climate and to bear witness to the death of tropical glaciers from global warming.
|©AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
|Lonnie Thompson stands in the 'cold room,' where ice cores are stored in the minus-30-degree freezer at Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University Friday, Dec. 21, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio.