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Thin Ice


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About the Author

A well-known scientist, alpinist, magazine and popular-science writer, Mark Bowen holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT.


In 1997, Bowen was contacted by a magazine editor looking for a science writer with climbing experience to join paleoclimatologist Lonnie Thompson on his expedition to drill ice cores on the summit of Bolivia's highest mountain. Retrieving ice cores, which are read like tree rings and present detailed information about climate history, requires that climatologists spend weeks, even months, working in the "death zone," the area above 18,000 feet. Here Bowen, who accompanied Thompson on several more expeditions, documents the specialized techniques that Thompson used to extract and preserve ice cores from the highest mountains around the world's equator while also examining Thompson's research, which is based on the provocative premise that equatorial mountain glaciers, rather than polar ice, provide the clues to understanding global warming. Bowen chronicles the global warming debate from its earliest predictors up to the present and notes the undeniable fact that temperatures have noticeably risen over the past 50 years, with the high latitudes experiencing the fastest warming. Bowen and Thompson believe that the snows of Kilimanjaro will disappear within the next 15 years, evidenced by its already retreating glaciers. Both a gripping adventure tale that will appeal to armchair mountaineers and a serious science account, this timely book is highly recommended for all academic and larger public libraries.-Gloria Maxwell, Penn Valley Community Coll. Lib., Kansas City, MO Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"One of the best books yet published on climate change... The best compact history of the science of global warming I have read." - Bill McKibben, The New York Review of Books"

Residents of Florida and the Gulf Coast have seen an unusually early hurricane season this year. Thousands of people die every month as drought continues to grip Africa. In August 2003, 15,000 people, mostly senior citizens, died in a French heat wave. Popular-science author Bowen shows readers how these events result from climate disruption caused by global warming. Bowen frames his story with the exploits of Lonnie Thompson, a professor at Ohio State who pioneered the study of glaciers near the equator. Thompson challenged and eventually changed accepted beliefs on how climate change occurs with his revolutionary lightweight-coring techniques that draw ice cores from glaciers in South America, on the China-Tibet border and elsewhere. Bowen explains how carbon dioxide and water vapor interact to regulate our planet's thermostat and argues that scientific evidence conclusively shows that use of fossil fuels has accelerated global warming; in our lifetimes, he predicts, the snows of Kilimanjaro will be no more. This book will appeal to mountaineering and climatology buffs, but should be read by everyone concerned about the future of our planet. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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