Friday, May 1, 2009

Prof. gets 'highest award' - Campus

Prof. gets 'highest award' - Campus

Ohio State polar scientist Ellen Mosley-Thompson was named to the National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday for her research on global climate change.

Mosley-Thompson is the 10th scientist at OSU to be inducted into the academy, the nation's most prestigious scientific body. She is a professor of geography and a senior research scientist with the Byrd Polar Research Center at OSU.

"I'm clearly very thrilled," Mosley-Thompson said. "It's kind of like a cornerstone to one's professional career.

"It's overwhelming in a way but just as humbling because there are many equally or more deserving scientists out there who weren't selected."

She said her major accomplishments include the research her and her team have done in Antarctica and Greenland. She said they studied ice cores in those two countries to construct a detailed history of the Earth's climate.

The research team takes ice sheets that are several meters long and sends them back to the U.S. where they are analyzed based on how much dust is in the ice, said Caroline Whitacre, vice president for research at OSU.

"They can actually make climate predictions based on the analysis of that ice," she said. "They've predicted that our climate is rapidly changing."

Her team also has documented the retreat of high-elevation glaciers in areas near the middle and low latitude lines of the Earth, such as in the tropics and sub-tropics.

"This is the highest award for an American scientist to achieve," Whitacre said. "It's a huge honor for her and the university."

Mosley-Thompson, who has been working at OSU for 30 years, has led eight missions to Antarctica and six to Greenland, where she and her team drill ice cores from ice sheets. The team has performed an expedition on every continent, Whitacre said.

Mosley-Thompson's husband, Lonnie Thompson, is also part of the research team that analyzes ice cores from different regions of the world. He is a professor of Earth Sciences at OSU and is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

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