Ice Cores from Tropical Mountain Glaciers as Archives of Climate Change

  • Lonnie G. Thompson
  • Mary E. Davis
  • Ping-Nan Lin
  • Ellen Mosley-Thompson
  • Henry H. Brecher
Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 23)


The 20th century has seen the acceleration of unprecedented global and regional-scale climatic and environmental changes to which humans are vulnerable, and by which we will become increasingly more affected in the coming centuries. One-half of the Earth’s surface area lies in the tropics between 30°N and 30°S, and this area supports almost 70% of the global population. Thus, temporal and spatial variations in the occurrence and intensity of coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomena such as El Niño and the Monsoons, which are most strongly expressed in the tropics and subtropics, are of worldwide significance. Unfortunately, meteorological observations in these regions are scarce and of short duration. However, ice core records are available from low-latitude, high-altitude glaciers, and when they are combined with high-resolution proxy histories such as those from tree rings, lacustrine and marine cores, corals, etc., they provide an unprecedented view of the Earth’s climatic history over several millennia. This paper provides an overview of these unique glacier archives of past climate and environmental changes on millennial to decadal time scales. Also included is a review of the recent, global-scale retreat of these alpine glaciers under present climate conditions, and a discussion of the significance of this retreat with respect to the longer-term perspective, which can only be provided by the paleoclimate records.


Abrupt change Climate Ice cores Isotopes Tropics Warming 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lonnie G. Thompson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mary E. Davis
    • 1
  • Ping-Nan Lin
    • 1
  • Ellen Mosley-Thompson
    • 1
    • 3
  • Henry H. Brecher
    • 1
  1. 1.Byrd Polar Research CenterThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geological SciencesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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