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

curan 1,000 miles north." Huascuran is located at 9 degrees south latitude and Sajama sits at 18 degrees south. Similar cooling was found in ice cores drilled from Western Tibet, Antarctica and the Greenland ice cap.

Evidence from the Sajama cores showing that the region was wetter during the last glacial stage reinforces researchers' understanding of the history of the South American Altiplano. Periodically, as the regional climate changed from dry to wet, huge lakes formed on the plateau.

"These were massive lakes. One of them -- a freshwater lake -- covered more than 38,610 square miles (100,000 square kilometers) and was up to 984 feet (300 meters) deep." Thompson said the lakes filled during the wet periods and later emptied -- in some cases forming salt flats -- during the dry periods. Some researchers believe the lakes may have been refilled several times during the last 60,000 years.

"Historically, this is a very dynamic place," he said, "although you wouldn't think that when you look at it today."

While it still isn't confirmed, Thompson and colleagues suggest that the mechanism controlling the onset and end of these cold, glacial periods may be tied to the changes in the tropical hydrological system.

"It's very important to better understand the processes of this system since they may be relevant to what is happening today. Ther
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Contact: Lonnie Thompson
thompson.3@osu.edu
614-292-6531
Ohio State University
3-Dec-1998


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