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THIN ICE: UNLOCKING THE SECRETS OF CLIMATE IN THE WORLD'S HIGHEST MOUNTAIN RANGES Bowen 2005 1st edition 7 copies available
By Bowen, Mark
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2005, 1st edition. For three decades paleo-climatologist Lonnie Thompson, one of the greatest explorers of our time, has risked his life and career to unlock the secrets of climate. Diverging from mainstream scientists' study of the polar ice caps, Thompson scaled the world's highest peaks along the equator to collect ice cores.

Bowen accompanied scientist Lonnie Thompson on several expeditions, and includes accounts of other expeditions as well, to deep-drill into glacier cores. Thompson has spent more time in the 'death zone' than anyone alive. Here are accounts of his experiences on Quelccaya (1974-84), Qilian Shan China (1984, 86, 87), Antarctic (1988-90), Kunlun Shan China (1991-92), Huascaran (1991, 93), Sajama (1997), Tibet (1997), and Kilimanjaro (1999, 2000). This is an important read about what the world's shrinking glaciers have to tell us about the past, and our potential future.

His ground- breaking fieldwork demonstrates that tropical glaciers hold the clues to global climate change and the world's environmental future. In 'Thin Ice', Mark Bowen, who joined Thompson's crew on three expeditions, documents in vivid detail the gruelling conditions under which they work; in one instance they survive for more than a month in the atmosphere mountain climbers call the 'death zone.' What this punishing work yields are amazing findings about the temperatures of the earth, stretching back hundreds of thousands of years, along with alarming predictions. An eye-opening ascent in East Africa reveals why the snows of Kilimanjaro will disappear within two decades.

Ice cores retrieved from the Tibetan plateau show that temperatures of the last fifty years are the warmest of the past forty thousand. Blending the best of adventure and science writing, Bowen, a physicist and expert climber himself, is equally adept describing the perils of high-altitude science as he is explaining the implications of data from each strata of an ice core. Like the best narrative non-fiction, 'Thin Ice' entertains as skilfully as it educates.

Residents of Florida and the Gulf Coast have seen an unusually early hurricane season this year. Thousands of people die every month as drought continues to grip Africa. In August 2003, 15,000 people, mostly senior citizens, died in a French heat wave.

Popular-science author Bowen shows readers how these events result from climate disruption caused by global warming. Bowen frames his story with the exploits of Lonnie Thompson, a professor at Ohio State who pioneered the study of glaciers near the equator. Thompson challenged and eventually changed accepted beliefs on how climate change occurs with his revolutionary lightweight-coring techniques that draw ice cores from glaciers in South America, on the China-Tibet border and elsewhere.

Bowen explains how carbon dioxide and water vapor interact to regulate our planet's thermostat and argues that scientific evidence conclusively shows that use of fossil fuels has accelerated global warming; in our lifetimes, he predicts, the snows of Kilimanjaro will be no more. This book will appeal to mountaineering and climatology buffs, but should be read by everyone concerned about the future of our planet.

Bowen is a science writer and climber. Lonnie Thompson is a climatologist from Ohio State University who spends much of his time studying remote ice caps along the equator to map the course of climate change. Bowen first joined Thompson on the summit of Nevado Sajama, the highest mountain in Bolivia. Sajama--21,500 feet high--is in what climbers call the 'death zone,' the environment above 18,000 feet.

Bowen also joined Thompson for three weeks on Tanzania's Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. The 19,344-foot Kibo is the highest of three volcanoes there. Bowen decribes the pain brought on climbing at that height, the equipment, the warm clothes and boots required to survive months in harsh conditions, and the equipment needed to perform research involved in ice core climatology. Bowen offers a detailed background of the science of climatology and Thompson's part in this scientific pursuit to comprehend the global climate system. Readers will be intrigued by the author's exceptional narrative and--at the same time--will able to stay safe and warm.

Hardcover, DJ, New. Remainder mark.


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