OSU Researchers Find Evidence of London’s Industrial Revolution Over Six Thousand Miles Away in Himalayan Glacier

Scientists at the Ohio State University have found evidence that humanity left its mark on one of the tallest summits in the Himalayas hundreds of years before any person is known to have set foot there.

Their research demonstrates that the left overs from the coal burned in late 18th century London, the birth place of the Industrial Revolution, found their way to the ice of the Dasuopu glacier in the central Himalayas. This is a 6,400 mile journey, in a straight line, from Industrial Revolution London.

This research was part of a larger project that traveled to the glacier in the late 90’s to drill ice cores from Dasuopu. These ice cores provide data on everything from snowfall, atmospheric circulation and other environmental changes over time.

Dasuopu is 23,600 feet above sea level making it the highest site in the world where in researchers have been able to collect a climate record in the form of an ice core. The glacier is located on Shishapangma mountain which is one of the world’s fourteen tallest. All of these fourteen of them Himalayan mountains.

The research team analyzed the core collected in the 90s for 23 different trace metals. Ice cores are kind of like a timeline. Researchers can see where new layers of ice have formed in the glacier over time. Using environmental data researchers can even predict accurately down to the year when a new layer formed.

The team looked specifically at a layer formed between 1499 and 1992 finding traces of coal burning in that layer suggesting the effects of London’s Industrial Revolution reached the Himalayas by wind.