Core Project: Low-latitude glacier retreat

Summary

This project is designed to directly address the CWC climate question, "Does human intervention have the potential to push the climate system such that abrupt climate changes (ACC) become more frequent, intense and rapid?" This core project consists of three sub-projects, focused respectively on Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Andes, and the Himalayas. The basic questions to be addressed are: (1) Do human activities have the potential to push the climate system such that abrupt climate changes become more frequent, intense and rapid? (2) How rapid are the World's water towers retreating? These are the ice fields that provide critical water supplies during the annual dry season. (3) How will the loss of these water resources affect the natural ecosystems and human activities in the affected regions?

The products and deliverables from this project include scientific evaluation of the rate and volume of ice loss with future projections; insight to drivers of past ACC; annually resolved paleohistories; digital elevation models (DEMs) and moraine maps; better quantification of the impact of the ice loss on water availability on local people and their livelihoods and economy; capacity building with local scholars and their students who will gain research experience; provide local administrators with likely scenarios for water resources for planning purposes; media coverage; and several proposals to the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Contacts

Ellen Mosley-Thompson
Ice Core Paleoclimatology Group
Byrd Polar Research Center

Bryan Mark
Department of Geography