El Niño-Southern Oscillation Events Recorded in the Stratigraphy of the Tropical Quelccaya Ice Cap, Peru

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Science  05 Oct 1984:
Vol. 226, Issue 4670, pp. 50-53
DOI: 10.1126/science.226.4670.50


Snow accumulation measured during 1982-1983 on the Quelccaya ice cap, Peru, was 70 percent of the average from 1975 through 1983. Inspection of 19 years (1964 through 1983) of accumulation measured near the summit of Quelccaya reveals a substantial decrease (∼30 percent) in association with the last five El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) occurrences in the equatorial Pacific. The ENSO phenomenon is now recognized as a global event arising from large-scale interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere. Understanding this extreme event, with the goal of prediction, requires a record of past occurrences. The Quelccaya ice cap, which contains 1500 years of annually accumulated ice layers, may provide a long and detailed record of the most extreme ENSO events.

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