Ohio State scientists recover oldest ice core outside polar regions

January 4, 2018
Professor Lonnie Thompson handles Tibetan ice core

An international scientific team co-led by Lonnie Thomspon, Distinguished University Professor of Earth Sciences, successfully drilled the longest ice core outside the polar regions. The ice core was recovered from the Guliya Ice Cap in Tibet. It may include ice that formed more than 600,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest ice samples ever recovered. Thompson and his collaborators presented new discoveries about the core at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December. They reported a persistent increase in both temperature and precipitation in Tibet’s Kunlun Mountains over the last few centuries. On the Guliya Ice Cap, where they drilled the latest ice core, the average temperature has risen 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) in the last 50 years and the average precipitation has risen by 2.1 inches per year over the past 25 years. Thompson and others are continuing to study the ice core, which is stored in a -22-degree (F) freezer at Ohio State’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, in order to interpret past climate. The ice records can be compared with modern climate models to make predictions about the future.

Learn more here

A video of a 2015 expedition to Guliya Glacier in Tibet is below.