Oldest Ice Core From The Tropics Recovered, New Ice Age Evidence

years and was thought only to have occurred in the Northern Hemisphere. But in the Sajama core, the event actually lasted 2,500 years but ended at the same point.)

Trapped within the cores were insects and paper-thin bark fragments from the polylepis trees that populate the lower flanks of Sajama.

This was the first time material retrieved from a tropical ice core has been carbon-dated, offering a new, additional technique for dating old ice. The carbon-dating was done at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the organic material at less than 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) from the bottom of the cores was dated back 24,000 years.

The period of the last glacial stage as recorded in polar ice cores and cores from Huascuran (Peru) was thought to be cold and dry but the eight-fold drop in dust suggests much wetter conditions in the vicinity of Sajama.

Previously, Thompson has led expeditions to ice caps in the Andes at Huascuran and Quelccaya, Peru, to retrieve other ice cores. Taken together, the information from Huascuran and Sajama cores clearly points to a cooler tropics during the late glacial stage.

"We're seeing about a 5- to 6-degree Celsius cooling in the region," Thompson said. "That's the same magnitude of response recorded in the ice core records from Huas

Contact: Lonnie Thompson
Ohio State University

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