Peru’s Quelccaya ice cap, the world’s largest tropical ice sheet, is shrinking because of rising temperatures, according to a study by Dartmouth College.
Dartmouth’s research suggests “that these tropical glaciers are shrinking very rapidly today because of a warming climate,” said Meredith Kelly, one of the study’s authors, in a preview of the paper.
The rapid retreat of the Peruvian glacier, which sits at 18,000 feet (5,486 meters) in the Andes, has resulted in a debate about whether temperature, precipitation or other factors were causing the decline in ice mass, according to the study. Nine mountain ranges around the world lost on average 0.6 meters of water equivalent in the 2011-2012 season, according to the most recent figures available by the World Glacier Monitoring Service.
Justin Stroup and Kelly of Hanover, New Hampshire-based Dartmouth College compared the retreat of a glacier that emerges from the ice cap with annually dated ice-core records to establish a connection between temperature and the long-term fluctuations of the ice sheet, according to the study published today in the journal Geology.