News of the WeekClimate Change Research

Arduous Expedition to Sample Last Virgin Tropical Glaciers

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Science  28 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5982, pp. 1084-1085
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5982.1084

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Next week, glaciologists will begin retrieving ice from Puncak Jaya, a mountain in Indonesia's Papua Province, to glean insights into ancient climate and compare cores with records from the handful of other tropical glaciers. Puncak Jaya is perched at a critical spot in the global climate system: the western edge of the Pacific Warm Pool, which pumps more heat into the atmosphere than any other source on Earth. The Papua project poses daunting logistical challenges, and the payoff is far from certain. It's unknown, for instance, how far back in time the Puncak Jaya climate record runs. What is clear is that this is the last chance to get useful data from Papua, as Papua's glaciers are almost gone.