While Antarctica and Greenland may first come to mind when thinking of frozen fields of ice, glaciers occur widely across the planet – even on the equator! These glaciers at tropical latitudes preserve paleoclimate histories unattainable elsewhere. Unfortunately, these glaciers are rapidly melting. Not only does this destroy the paleoclimate information, the glaciers are the primary source of water for hydroelectric power production, crop irrigation, and municipal water for many areas of the world. Because of unprecedented global warming and the subsequent rapid rate of melting, the glaciers are not being replenished, and the waters will soon cease to exist for these areas.
Dr. Thompson will explore the work done on ice both on Antarctica and in the tropics. The rates of change will be examined on time scales ranging from only a couple of years, to tens of thousands to years. It is important to place these changes in the proper context because 70% of the global population lives in the tropical regions where these changes in glaciers are occurring.