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Paleo Slide Set: Low Latitude Ice Cores: High Resolution Records of Climatic Change and Variability in the Tropics and Subtropics
Quelccaya itself is a sweeping expanse of white and blue ice and sky. Thunderclouds such as these roar onto the ice cap from the Amazon Basin, providing 80 to 90% of Quelccaya's snowfall. Annual accumulation (precipitation minus evaporation and sublimation) averages 1.15 m of water equivalent (snow is largely made up of air, often containing less than 10% water; think of water equivalent as the amount of liquid water produced when snow is melted). When scientists drill into the ice cap, they recover what are essentially fossil pieces of ice containing crucial information about past climate.

Photo Credits:
Lonnie Thompson
Byrd Polar Research Center, The Ohio State University
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Last Modified: 12 October 2001

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