Climatic Ice Core Records from the Tropical Quelccaya Ice Cap

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Science  23 Mar 1979:
Vol. 203, Issue 4386, pp. 1240-1243
DOI: 10.1126/science.203.4386.1240


The Quelccaya Ice Cap in the easternmost glaciated mountain chain of the Peruvian Andes has been studied in four recentfield seasons. Ice cores to a depth of 15 meters have been retrieved at the summit dome (elevation, 5650 meters) and two other locations and used for microparticle, isotope, and beta radioactivity measurements. A concurrent study of the present climate and the heat and mass budgets is being made to permit a paleoclimatic interpretation of deep core records. The results indicate the need for a revision of the isotope "thermometry" for application in the tropics. However, the seasonality of the beta radioactivity, microparticle content, and isotope ratios offers the prospect of a mass balance chronology. This is important in that precipitation is believed to be a more indicative paleoclimatic parameter than temperature in the tropics.