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Credit: Freeport McMoRan.
To find clues about the Earth's past climate, sometimes you have to get extreme. That's why scientists recently traveled to Indonesia's Puncak Jaya, the Earth's highest island peak and the tallest mountain between the Andes and the Himalayas. It's here that the last glaciers in the tropical Pacific are found.
Scientists scaled the 16,000-foot- (4,884-meter-) tall mountain which is about as tall as 11 Empire State Buildings and sank their drills into the rapidly dwindling glaciers to remove frozen tubes of ice, called ice cores. The team was on the ice from June 11 to June 28.
Ice cores are like climate time capsules buried thousands of years ago that show successive layers of ice and snow that have been laid down on glaciers. They enclose tiny bubbles that contain samples of the atmosphere trapped when each layer of ice first formed. By unlocking their secrets, scientists will reveal how the climate has changed over thousands of years.