Ice Samples from World’s Highest Tropical Mountain Unlock Climate Clues

Climate scientists at Ohio State University (OSU) have delved into the ice cores from Nevado Huascaran, the world’s highest tropical mountain, located in the Peruvian Andes. This research offers unprecedented insights into the climate history of the Amazon Basin over the past six decades, providing crucial data for understanding climate change impacts in tropical regions.

Ice Samples from World’s Highest Tropical Mountain

Nevado Huascaran, standing nearly 7,000 meters above sea level, served as the unique location for this study. The team collected four ice samples, two from the summit and two from the mountain col, the lowest point between two ridges.

By comparing the amount of oxygen in glacial ice at different elevations, scientists were able to discern temperature changes in the region over time. A notable finding was that ice from the summit proved more sensitive to large-scale changes in sea surface temperature compared to samples from lower elevations.

This discovery is significant as it unveils varying aspects of the region’s climate history at different altitudes. Importantly, the research indicates that changes in surface temperature are impacting the summit more rapidly.

Austin Weber, the lead author of the study and a PhD student at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Centre at OSU, highlighted the paleo-climatic potential of these ice cores for studying the history of phenomena such as El Niño in the tropics. Unlike polar regions, tropical ice samples can provide unique insights into climatic events like El Niño and the movement of monsoon winds.

The study showcases the valuable role that ice cores from high-altitude tropical regions can play in understanding the complexities of climate change and its regional impacts.