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Author, mountaineer and scientist Mark Bowen chronicled Thompson's research career in his 2005 book, "Thin Ice." The book stated, "Lonnie Thompson occupies that narrow perch on adventure's summit alongside Earnest Shackleton." Considered somewhat a rebel chasing an improbable theory early in his career, Thompson's discoveries have since won over most opponents in his field of paleoclimatology, and netted him substantial accolades.He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2002 Heineken Prize for Environmental Science, given by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.From this work, he, geography professor Ellen Mosley Thompson - his research partner and wife -- and his research team have provided irrefutable evidence that the last half-century was the warmest period in recorded history.That work signals a rapidly growing warming trend that apparently exceeds any normal variation seen in past centuries.But while those alpinists sprint to the summit and return to the mountains' bases, Thompson's teams will remain for weeks on end, drilling hundreds of meters through the ice fields to retrieve the climate records they hold hidden.Thompson shocked the scientific community in 2001 when he predicted that the famed snows of Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania would melt within the next 20 years, a victim of climate change across the tropics.
As a boy raised in the rural West Virginia railroad mining town of Gassaway, Lonnie awed local residents with his uncanny ability to predict the weather, a knack at forecasting that usually surpassed the professional forecasters in the region.COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Lonnie Thompson, the Ohio State University glaciologist who has probably spent more time at high altitudes than any other person, was named today to receive the National Medal of Science for his work providing explicit evidence of global climate change.The award, arguably the highest honor the United States bestows on an American scientist, caps nearly three decades of research in some of the world's most remote regions.In the 1970s, he was the first to retrieve ice samples from a remote tropical ice cap and analyze them for ancient climate signals.Nearly 30 years later, with vast refinements in both techniques and technology, this Ohio State team continues its basic mission to drill through many of the world's pristine ice fields and rescue the data trapped inside.