Lonnie Thompson, Author at State of the Planet

Finished, as the Glaciers Fall Apart

We have finished our mission at Puncak Jaya and removed the ice cores, along with all camps and people from the field. Currently, we are in the coastal city of Timika for a few days, drying out our field equipment and tents. These are the first glaciers we have ever drilled where it rains almost every day–and… read more

by |June 28, 2010

The Ice Cores

Maybe the most difficult thing about ice cores comes after the actual drilling: then you then have to get them out and transport them long distances, and make sure they don’t melt. Otherwise, all that work was for nothing. Here are some images showing how we handle them initially. (Courtesy David Christenson/Freeport McMoRan)

by |June 18, 2010

Drilling the Glacier to Bedrock

Yesterday we completed our first ice core at the Northwall Firn Glacier, down to bedrock, penetrating 30 meters through the glacier, until we hit bottom. The ice seems to contain visible layers all the way down–a sign that yearly accumulations have been preserved, instead of melding into each other. This means we should be able to… read more

by |June 14, 2010

Finally on Ice

With the blessing of two wonderful days of clear weather, all our equipment was moved into place this morning. The ice coring can now begin. We anticipate finishing the drill assembly today and drilling by mid-morning tomorrow at three sites on the Northwall Firn glacier: the two “domes” and the saddle, where the team will… read more

by |June 11, 2010

On Our Way to the Top

This morning we were at our staging area at the Grasberg mine at 5 am, and were able to use the B3 helicopter to get ourselves set up. First trip up, our colleagues Keith Mountain and Vladimir Mikhalenko went to what we call the “saddle camp”—a spot between two peaks—where we will stage the first… read more

by |June 9, 2010

Needed: Ice Drills

We are staying at the high-elevation Grasberg gold and copper mine—not on top of Puncak Jaya—because some of our equipment has not arrived. We have 99 pieces out of the 106 we shipped, but unfortunately our ice drills are in the missing pieces, and we cannot do anything without those. We are working hard to… read more

by |June 2, 2010

Moving Up a Melting Mountain

Four days ago, we flew into the lowland Papuan city of Timika, then moved up to Tembagapura, a town managed by the Freeport-McMoRan company, whose gold/copper mine near our glaciers is lending us logistical support. Tembagapura, at 1,900 meters (6,000 feet), was our first step in acclimatizing to high elevation. Now we have moved up… read more

by |May 23, 2010