May 1, 1993

“Recent warming”: ice core evidence from tropical ice cores with emphasis on Central Asia

L.G. Thompson, E.Mosley-Thompson, M.Davis, P.N.Lin, T.Yao, M.Dyurgerov J.Dai
Global and Planetary Change
  • States that ice cores from the tropics and subtropics, in conjunction with those from the polar regions, provide a multifaceted record (dust, chemistry, stable isotopes, accumulation) of environmental changes which can be viewed both spatially and temporally
  • This paper emphasizes the oxygen isotopic record (δ18O) preserved in cores from the poles to the tropics and assesses the evidence for global warming in the last 50–100 years
  • From north to south these records include: Camp Century, Greenland, Dunde and Guliya Ice Caps, China, Gregoriev Ice Cap, Kirghizia (formerly part of USSR), Quelccaya Ice Cap, Peru and Siple Station and South Pole, Antarctica
  • The central Asian records along with that from Quelccaya provide strong evidence of recent and rapid warming in the tropics and subtropics
  • For the Dunde Ice Cap, where a long paleoclimatic record is available, the warming in this century appears to be unprecedented in the Holocene
  • These tropical and subtropical records contrast sharply with those from polar cores which show little evidence of a recent warming
  • These data suggest that either the recent warming is a middle and lower latitude phenomenon or that these high altitude tropical and subtropical glaciers may be more sensitive to climate changes than the massive polar ice sheets
  • Regardless, the current rapid disintegration of many tropical and subtropical glaciers may result in the permanent loss of numerous unique archives