COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Eighty scientists from around the world will be discussing the physical, chemical and biological impacts of climate change on air, water, ice, ecosystems, and the 7.3 billion people on Earth, during the Third Pole Environmental Workshop in Columbus this week.
Ohio State will play host to scientists from 15 countries starting Monday through Wednesday. It is the sixth in a series of such climate conferences, and the only one scheduled in the Western Hemisphere.
“We’re losing these glaciers and these archives, so part of what we’re doing is really a salvage mission for the future,” said Dr. Lonnie Thompson, an Ohio State glaciologist.
Thompson has undertaken more than 50 expeditions to remote highland glaciers to retrieve ice cores that provide a proxy record of climate variability. His team of 10 OSU researchers, who were joined by Chinese scientists, drilled hundreds feet into the ice at an elevation of 22,000 feet, after hauling 7 tons of equipment across steep ravines and forbidding frozen terrain in minus-40 temperatures.
The Tibetan Plateau in western China is known as the Third Pole (TP), because it contains about 46,000 glaciers and the largest ice mass in the world. The impact of receding glaciers, which includes virtually all outside of the polar region, extends far beyond any single location. Melting glaciers raises global sea level.
Evaporation of and recession of the ice on the Tibetan Plateau decreases the water flowing into the Indus River that supplies millions of people in portions of China, India and Pakistan.
The global climate history is written in a vast store of ice cores preserved in a freezer at Ohio State’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, at a temperature below minus-25 degrees, extending Earth’s climate record as far back as 750,000 years. Ice from the Guylia site in western Tibet that was brought back for chemical analysis could be as old as 1 million years.
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