February 15, 2006
Global meltdown: There might not be enough ice left to study at Mt. Kilimanjaro in just nine years.
Virtual Marcher Al Gore’s Sundance Film Festival hit documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” featured Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar Research Center.
While working on his mater’s degree at Ohio State University, Lonnie Thompson inspected the first ever ice core taken from Antarctica. Fascinated by the potential ability to reveal the earth’s climate history by examining atmospheric particles trapped in ice core layers, Thompson began a lifelong quest to retrieve ice core samples from the farthest reaches of the planet - and transformed him into one of the world’s leading glaciologists.
At Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar Research Center, which keeps a library of ice core samples, Thompson can decipher the secrets held by particles of dust and pollen that have been preserved through thousands of years. "This is history,” he said. “It's a frozen history of the Earth."
His findings have been startling, and have convinced him and other experts that global warming is indeed a real threat that needs to be confronted now.
A dramatic illustration is what’s happening to the famed Mt. Kilimanjaro. "In 1912, there was 12.1 square kilometers of ice on the mountain," Thompson said. "When we photographed the mountain in February of 2000, we were down to 2.2 square kilometers. If you look at the area of decrease, it's linear. And you just project that into the future, sometime around 2015, the ice will disappear off Kilimanjaro."
Imagine that. There might not be enough ice left for Lonnie Thompson to study - just nine years from now.