by KEITH WAGSTAFF (The Week)
Ice that took 1,600 years to form in the Peruvian Andes took only 25 years to disappear, according to a new study published in Science.
Lonnie G. Thompson, a glaciologist at Ohio State University, studied plants that had been recently exposed near Quelccaya, the world's largest tropical ice sheet, located 18,000 feet above sea level. Analysis of the plants showed that the ice cap is smaller than it has been for six thousand years.
Ultimately, Thompson was able to figure out that 1,600 years worth of ice had melted in less than three decades. The culprit? Global warming, scientists told the New York Times:
[T]he melting now under way appears to be at least as fast, if not faster, than anything in the geological record since the end of the last ice age ...
Global warming, which scientists say is being caused primarily by the human release of greenhouse gases, is having its largest effects at high latitudes and high altitudes. Sitting at high elevation in the tropics, the Quelccaya ice cap appears to be extremely sensitive to the temperature changes, several scientists said. [New York Times]
The glacier is melting so quickly, Thompson tells The Daily Mail, that he has had to archive some of the ice "at -30ºC so that creative people will have access to it 20 years from now, using instruments...
Via Michael Charney