For three decades paleo-climatologist Lonnie Thompson, one of the greatest explorers of our time, has risked his life and career to unlock the secrets of climate. Diverging from mainstream scientists' study of the polar ice caps, Thompson scaled the world's highest peaks along the equator to collect ice cores. His ground- breaking fieldwork demonstrates that tropical glaciers hold the clues to global climate change and the world's environmental future. In "Thin Ice", Mark Bowen, who joined Thompson's crew on three expeditions, documents in vivid detail the gruelling conditions under which they work; in one instance they survive for more than a month in the atmosphere mountain climbers call the "death zone." What this punishing work yields are amazing findings about the temperatures of the earth, stretching back hundreds of thousands of years, along with alarming predictions. An eye-opening ascent in East Africa reveals why the snows of Kilimanjaro will disappear within two decades. Ice cores retrieved from the Tibetan plateau show that temperatures of the last fifty years are the warmest of the past forty thousand.
Blending the best of adventure and science writing, Bowen, a physicist and expert climber himself, is equally adept describing the perils of high-altitude science as he is explaining the implications of data from each strata of an ice core. Like the best narrative non-fiction, "Thin Ice" entertains as skilfully as it educates.
A well-known scientist, alpinist, magazine and popular-science writer, Mark Bowen holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT.