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他发现了全球变暖

A Climate Scientist Battles Time and Mortality
他发现了全球变暖

COLUMBUS, Ohio — One day in 1991, high in the thin, crystalline air of the Peruvian Andes, Lonnie G. Thompson saw that the world’s largest tropical ice cap was starting to melt. It was the moment he realized that his life’s work had suddenly become a race.

俄亥俄州哥伦布——1991年的一天,秘鲁安第斯山区的高处,稀薄澄净的空气之中,朗尼·G·汤普森(Lonnie G. Thompson)目睹世界上最大的热带冰冠开始融化。正是在那一刻,他猛然意识到,这辈子的工作已经变成了一场速度竞赛。

The discovery meant other ice caps were likely to melt, too, and the tales of past climate that they contained could disappear before scientists had a chance to learn from them.

这一发现意味着其他的冰冠也可能会融化,蕴藏在冰冠之中的气候传奇故事也会随之消失,不给科学家们留下从中汲取教益的机会。
 

玻利维亚使命 1997年探险,右边是朗尼·G·汤普森,他用太阳能钻机萃取冰块。

Driven by a new sense of urgency over the ensuing 20 years, he pulled off a string of achievements with few parallels in modern science. He led teams to some of the highest, most remote reaches of the earth to retrieve samples of the endangered ice.

随后的二十年间,全新的紧迫感驱使汤普森取得了一连串在现代科学界罕有其匹的成就。他领着一个又一个的团队去到了地球上海拔最高、最为偏远的一些地方,为的是获取濒危冰川的样本。

Then last October, the race against the clock became much more personal.

再往后,去年十月,这场与时间的竞赛带上了远比先前浓重的个人色彩。

Dr. Thompson woke up in a Columbus hospital room, a strange dream rattling in his brain. He looked down. “Wires were coming out of my chest,” he said. Machinery had been implanted to keep him alive. Longer term, doctors told him, only a heart transplant would restore him to full health.

汤普森在哥伦布一家医院的病房中醒来,一个奇怪的梦扰得他不得安生。他低下头。“我的胸膛里蹦出了电线,”他说。为了维持他的生命,医生把机器植入了他的身体,并且告诉他,从长远来看,只有心脏移植能让他完全康复。

Dr. Thompson, 64, is one of the most prominent of the generation of scientists who, in the latter decades of the 20th century, essentially discovered the problem of global warming. Now those scientists are beginning to age out of the field. Many of them say they grapple with the question of how hard to keep pushing themselves. Could one more finding or one more expedition help turn the tide of public awareness?

现年64岁的汤普森是整整一代科学家之中的翘楚,正是这一代科学家在二十世纪后半叶认清了全球变暖问题的实质。现在,这些科学家渐渐老去,开始淡出这个领域。他们当中的许多人都说,自己面临着一个令人纠结的问题:“需要付出多大的努力,才能推动自己继续前行”。再有一项研究成果,或者是再来一次探险,就能够帮助扭转公众意识吗?

Some have continued working into their 70s and 80s. One of the most vocal about the need for action, Stephen H. Schneider of Stanford University, fought off a rare form of cancer several years ago, only to die of a blood clot in 2010 after speaking in Europe about climate change. He was 65.

有些科学家一直工作到了七八十岁的时候。说到行动的必要性,声音最大的科学家之一就是斯坦福大学的斯蒂芬·施奈德(Stephen H. Schneider)。他在几年前战胜了一种罕见的癌症,最后却在2010年死于血凝,年仅65岁。去世之前,他还在欧洲发表了关于气候变化的演讲。

Of this pioneering group, few were hardier than Dr. Thompson, who has taught earth sciences at Ohio State University since the 1970s. Though he routinely spent up to two months a year camped in dangerous conditions atop mountains, he despised derring-do. His enterprise was driven by a lust for hard data.

在这群先驱当中,很少有人能比汤普森更加坚定。自上世纪70年代起,汤普森就在俄亥俄州立大学教授地球科学。按照常例,他每年都要花长达两个月的时间在危机四伏的山顶安营扎寨,尽管如此,他仍然鄙视蛮勇。他的冒险精神只有一个动力,那就是对可靠数据的渴望。

Hauling six tons of equipment to South America, Africa, Asia and Europe, he and his small team raced to recover long cylinders of ice from glaciers that had built up over thousands of years. The layers in those cylinders contained dust, volcanic ash, subtle variations in water chemistry, even the occasional frozen insect — a record of climatic and geologic changes that could be retrieved, preserved and interpreted like a series of tree rings.

他和他的小小团队拖着6吨重的设备跑遍了南美、非洲、亚洲和欧洲,争分夺秒地从几千年形成的冰川中提取长长的圆柱形冰样。圆柱的每一层都包含着灰尘、火山灰和水化学的微妙变化,偶尔还有冻僵的昆虫——这些东西形成了一份可供提取、保存和解读的气候和地质变化记录,好比是树木的年轮。

Dr. Thompson became one of the first scientists to witness and record a broad global melting of land ice. And his ice cores proved that this sudden, coordinated melting had no parallel, at least not in the last several thousand years.

就这样,汤普森成为了首批目睹并记录全球陆冰普遍融化的科学家之一,而他采集的冰芯已经证明,至少是在过去的几千年当中,这种突如其来、不约而同的融化过程是没有前例的。

To some climate scientists, the Thompson ice core record became the most convincing piece of evidence that the rapid planetary warming now going on was a result of a rise in greenhouse gases caused by human activity.

对某些气候科学家来说,汤普森的冰芯记录堪称是一条最为有力的证据,足以说明当下的全球快速变暖产生于人类活动所导致的温室气体增多。

“The reason Lonnie’s stuff is so powerful is that it’s so simple,” said Daniel P. Schrag, a geochemist at Harvard and director of its Center for the Environment.

哈佛大学地球化学家、环境中心主任丹尼尔·P·施拉格(Daniel P. Schrag)说:“朗尼的材料无比有力,原因就是它无比简明。”

“His evidence dismisses the idea that this is some sort of 300-year or 500-year cycle, which is what the skeptics and the deniers want to say. You say: ‘No, because Lonnie’s ice didn’t melt then. It’s melting now, but it didn’t melt then.’ ”

“他提供的证据驳斥了全球变暖过程属于某种300年或500年周期的观点,而那正是怀疑者和否定者的论调。你会说:‘不对,因为那个时候朗尼的冰没融化。如今冰正在融化,那个时候却没有。’”

Colleagues say Dr. Thompson neglected his own health in pursuit of his science. Now, largely confined to his office and home in Columbus, he said he has begun to appreciate the clarity afforded him by his circumstance.

同事们说,汤普森光知道追求科学,忽视了自己的健康。现在,汤普森大多数时候都待在哥伦布,待在办公室或者家里。他说,对于目前的处境带给自己的澄净之感,他已经有了体会。

“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but it’s not all bad,” he said. “It really forces you to sit down and think about what it is you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and how you are using your time.”

他说,“我并不希望这种事情发生在任何人身上,但是这不全是坏事。它真的可以迫使你坐下来想一想,你干的是什么事情,为什么要干,你的时间利用得怎么样。”

Drawn to the Tropics

心向热带


Raised on a farm near Gassaway, W.Va., Lonnie Gene Thompson arrived at Ohio State with the idea of becoming a coal geologist, but ice soon seduced him.

朗尼·吉恩·汤普森(Lonnie Gene Thompson)生长在靠近西弗吉尼亚加萨韦的一个农场里,来俄亥俄州的目的是成为一名煤炭地质学家。但是,没过多久,他就变成了冰的俘虏。

As a graduate student pursuing a doctorate in geology, he was put to work analyzing dust in ice cores retrieved from Antarctica, and he learned how minute chemical and physical features could be used to deduce past climate. Thompson was drawn to tropical ice.

作为一名攻读地质学博士学位的研究生,他受命分析从南极州采集的冰芯当中的灰尘,并且学会了如何根据微细的化学和物理特征来推断过去的气候。汤普森迷上了热带冰。

The very idea of ice in the warmest part of the world seems to defy common sense. But it is cold atop high mountains everywhere, and major ice caps exist on towering mountain plateaus far from the earth’s poles. Even in the mid-20th century, some of them had never been explored.

世界上最炎热的地带居然有冰,这样的想法似乎有违常识。但是,世界各地的高山山顶都是寒冷的,人们确实可以在远离两极的高耸山原上找到大型的冰冠。即便到了二十世纪中叶,有一些山地高原仍然无人涉足。

The Ohio State team decided to focus on the mighty Quelccaya ice cap in the Andes of Peru, the largest tropical ice cap on the planet, suspecting it might yield a climate record. But the idea of drilling there met a chilly reception from some of the most eminent climate scientists of the day. The prevailing notion in the 1970s was that the tropics were climatologically boring and that most of the big oscillations in the earth’s climate had happened nearer the poles.

秘鲁安第斯山区的奎尔卡亚(Quelccaya)冰冠是地球上最大的热带冰冠,俄亥俄州立大学的团队推测这个庞然大物可以提供气候变迁的记录,于是决定集中力量进行探索。但是,当时最著名的一些气候科学家却对钻探奎尔卡亚冰冠的想法敬谢不敏。按照二十世纪七十年代的流行观点,热带地区是气候学的不毛之地,地球气候的绝大部分剧烈震荡都发生在更靠近两极的地区。

Besides, in the tropics, “nobody thought there would be ice that would be very old,” recalled Wallace S. Broecker of Columbia University, then and now the leading American paleoclimatologist (At 80, Dr. Broecker is among the climate scientists still working long past retirement age).

除此之外,“谁都没想到热带地区还会有极其寒冷的冰层。”哥伦比亚大学的华莱士·S·布洛克(Wallace S. Broecker)回忆道。不管是当时还是现在,布洛克都是美国古气候研究领域的权威专家(布洛克今年80岁,是那些远远超过退休年龄却仍然坚持工作的气候学家当中的一员)。

In 1974, with $7,000 from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Mercer and Dr. Thompson led a scouting party to Quelccaya, on a volcanic plain 18,000 feet above sea level. They confirmed that annual layering caused partly by seasonal dust could be seen in the ice.

1974年,带着美国国家科学基金会(National Science Foundation)赞助的7000美元,默塞尔(Dr. Mercer)和汤普森领着勘测队去了奎尔卡亚,奎尔卡亚位于一个海拔18000英尺的火山平原之上。他们证实,那里的冰确实带有部分由季节性灰尘造成的年纹层。

After a series of frustrated attempts to drill through the ice, including one involving a helicopter, Dr. Thompson resorted to mules, horses and donkeys to mount a 1983 expedition that drilled through 537 feet of ice with a solar-powered drill.

经历了一些列令人沮丧的钻冰尝试之后(其中一次还动用了直升飞机),汤普森借助骡子、马和驴的力量展开了1983年的探险,并且凭借太阳能钻头钻穿了537英尺厚的冰层。

At the time, he could not find a way to get the ice home frozen, so the layers were teased apart on the mountain and melted into thousands of plastic bottles that were hauled back to Columbus for chemical analysis.

当时他无法保证冰样不在运回去的途中融化,于是就在山上把冰样层层破开,融进数以千计的塑料瓶,再把瓶子拉回哥伦布做化学分析。

The results were startling. The ice record stretched back 1,500 years, and it recorded huge oscillations in the climate of the region — intense dry spells alternating with wet spells. Vast lakes had come and gone in the valleys, the dust from their dried-up beds leaving chemical imprints in the ice. The record also showed changes in water chemistry similar to those seen at the poles, leading Dr. Thompson to infer major temperature swings in the tropics.

结果令人震惊。冰样的记录从1500年前开始,记载了该地区气候的历次巨大变化——极度干旱期和湿润期交替出现。巨型的湖泊在山谷中形成,之后又归于湮灭,干涸湖盆的灰尘在冰层上留下了化学痕迹。冰样的记录还表明,该地区的水化学变化类似于人们在极地看到的变化,汤普森据此推断,热带地区经历了巨大的气温波动。

In the next few years, Dr. Thompson drilled at other sites in South America, recovering ice as old as 25,000 years and confirming the patterns seen at Quelccaya. His results, along with records other scientists were gathering from the sea floor, roiled the field of paleoclimatology.

接下来几年中,汤普森钻探了南美州其他一些地方的冰层,采集到了历史长达25000年的冰样,证实了他在奎尔卡亚看到的模式。他这些发现,再加上其他科学家从海床搜集到的记录,搅动了整个古气候学领域。

A realization began to dawn that the tropics were important to global climates of the past. It had been clear since the 1970s that the ice ages were caused by wobbles in Earth’s orbit around the Sun, but the ice sheets mainly grew in the Northern Hemisphere, which has most of the world’s land. Scientists had evidence that the ice sheets influenced climate all over the planet, but they had had trouble figuring out how.

人们渐渐产生了一种认识:要想研究过去的全球气候,那就不能忽视热带地区。早在二十世纪七十年代,人们就已经清楚地认识到,冰河时期的来由是地球公转轨道的变动,但冰原主要是在全球大部分陆地所在的北半球扩展。科学家们找到了冰原影响全球气候的证据,但却弄不明白冰原影响气候的具体方式。

Dr. Thompson’s results became part of a growing body of science suggesting that signals were being transmitted from the North Pole to the South Pole via the tropics, through huge shifts in winds, rain patterns and other variables.

汤普森的成果成为了日渐增多的科学文献的一部分,这些文献表明,通过风向、降雨模式和其他变量的剧烈变动,气候变化的信号经由热带从北极传到了南极。

The work had implications in other fields, too. Some archaeologists had begun to think climate swings were responsible for the rise and fall of cultures in the Andes and along the Peruvian coastal plain. And Dr. Thompson’s ice cores gave them evidence that climate had indeed changed drastically enough to send entire civilizations into collapse.

汤普森的工作对其他领域也有启发。一些考古学家已经开始认为,气候波动对安第斯山脉和秘鲁沿海平原各个文明的兴衰影响极大。此外,汤普森的冰芯还给他们提供了证据,证明气候的确发生了足以摧垮整个文明的巨大变化。

A Series of Challenges

一连串的挑战


By the late 1980s, concern about global warming was rising, and some scientists believed the ice caps and glaciers of the tropics would be among the first to show the effects.

到二十世纪八十年代末,人们对全球变暖的担忧日益加剧,一些科学家相信,热带地区的冰冠和冰川将会是率先揭示恶果的事物之一。

On a return trip to Quelccaya in 1991, Dr. Thompson noticed substantial melting at the edges of the ice cap, and some on top. Laboratory tests confirmed that the annual climate signals recorded in the chemistry of the ice were being blurred.

1991年,汤普森重返奎尔卡亚,并且注意到冰冠边缘正在大片融化,顶部也有融化迹象。实验室化验证实,记录在冰样化学构成当中的年度气候信号正变得日益模糊。

He picked up the pace with his team, who were among the first Western scientists allowed onto the ice caps of highland China, retrieving ice that may be as old as 750,000 years. He drilled several other times on the Tibetan plateau, in the Russian Arctic, in Alaska, atop Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, in New Guinea, in the Alps.

他加快步伐赶上团队,他的团队是首批获准登上中国高原冰冠的西方科考团队之一,当时正在采集历史可能长达75万年的冰层样本。后来,他还在青藏高原、俄罗斯北极地区、阿拉斯加、坦桑尼亚乞力马扎罗山顶、新几内亚和阿尔卑斯山钻探了好几次。

In his book about Dr. Thompson, “Thin Ice,” published in 2005, Mark Bowen described an incident on a peak called Huascarán in Peru. Dr. Thompson’s tent collapsed and started blowing off the mountain with him inside; he managed to stop it only by driving an ice ax through the floor, and then waited out the night. In his travels, he forded flooding rivers on horseback and coped with altitude sickness, coughing fits and blinding headaches. His West Virginia farm upbringing came in handy as he challenged Mongol porters to contests shooting wild game. Other times, he went hungry. Once, in China, dinner was a bowl of stewed camel paws.

2005年,马克·鲍恩(Mark Bowen)出版了一本有关汤普森的书,书名是《如履薄冰》(Thin Ice)。书中描述了一件发生在秘鲁瓦斯兰峰(Huascarán)的事情,风把汤普森的帐篷吹塌了,又把帐篷吹向山下,捎带着帐篷里面的汤普森;他把冰斧扎进地面,这才勉强停了下来,之后就眼巴巴地等到了天亮。旅程之中,他曾经骑在马背上涉过洪水泛滥的河流,还经历过高原病、阵发性咳嗽和苦不堪言的剧烈头疼。当他叫板蒙古搬运工、跟他们比试狩猎的时候,他在西弗吉尼亚农场的成长经历就派上了用场。还有些时候,他只能忍饥挨饿。有一次在中国,他的晚餐是一碗炖骆驼蹄子。

Somehow he and his team got the ice they were after and found ways to haul tons of the frozen cylinders back to Columbus, where roughly four miles of ice cores are kept at 30 degrees below zero and protected by backup generators.

通过这样那样的方法,他和他的团队采集到了理想的冰样,还把成吨的冰柱拖回了哥伦布。那里有总长度大约4英里的冰芯,保存在零下30度的环境之中,并受备用发电机的保护。

Dr. Thompson’s career has not been entirely free of controversy.

汤普森的职业生涯并不是完全没有争议的。

During an expedition to Tibet in 1997, a graduate student working with him, Shawn Wight, was forced off the mountain by altitude sickness, got an infection while hospitalized and died. A judge found Ohio State not liable, but the case led universities across the country to re-examine their policies on field expeditions.

在1997年的一次西藏探险中,与汤普森合作的研究生肖恩·怀特(Shawn Wight)因高原反应被迫下山,住院期间感染死亡。法官裁决俄亥俄州立大学无需为此承担责任,尽管如此,这个案子仍然迫使全国各地的大学重新审视自己的实地调查政策。

Some scientists have challenged Dr. Thompson’s analysis of the signals in his ice cores, saying that the chemical changes he interprets as temperature swings probably reflect a more complicated mix of changes in temperature, precipitation and atmospheric circulation patterns. Mathias Vuille, an atmospheric scientist at the State University at Albany, who admires Dr. Thompson’s achievements, said that his analysis on this point “is hard to reconcile with other evidence.”

针对汤普森对冰芯所携信号的分析,一些科学家已经提出疑义,说他将化学变化简单地诠释为温度波动,而那些变化很可能反映着出一个更加复杂的混合过程,同时涉及温度、降水和大气环流模式的变化。纽约州立大学奥尔巴尼分校的大气科学家马蒂亚斯·维耶(Mathias Vuille)虽然敬佩汤普森的成就,但却表示,汤普森在这一点上的分析结论“很难与其他证据统一起来。”

And an especially intense controversy has erupted about Dr. Thompson’s interpretation of ice he recovered atop Mount Kilimanjaro. Though Dr. Thompson sees the rapid disappearance of ice there as a reflection of climate change, his critics cite more regional than global factors, like precipitation.

汤普森对取自乞力马扎罗山顶的冰样的解释引发了一场尤其激烈的争论。尽管汤普森认为乞力马扎罗冰盖的快速消失反映的是气候变化,他的批评者却认为,其中的主要原因并不是全球性因素,而是降水之类的区域性因素。

While Dr. Thompson has defended his interpretations on these points, he does have some regrets. One is that those years of frenzied drilling led him to fall behind in publishing his data, so some of the evidence he has gathered is not yet available to the broader scientific community.

尽管汤普森已经为他在这些问题上的诠释做出了辩解,但他确实有一些做得不好的地方。其中之一就是这些年的疯狂钻探使他没能及时发布自己的数据,致使学界同仁至今都无法接触到他所搜集的一些证据。

Still, it is clear that Dr. Thompson managed to retrieve ice cores from a half-dozen places in the world where they can no longer be found in pristine form today. Some of the ice he drilled on Kilimanjaro, for instance, has since disappeared entirely.

不过,很显然,汤普森确实从全球的六七个特定地点取得了原始状态的冰芯,时至今日,那些地方已经不再有这样的冰芯。比如,他曾经钻探过的乞力马扎罗(Kilimanjaro)冰层有一部分已经完全消失了。

Ellen Mosley-Thompson does most of her fieldwork in Antarctica, but she has played a major role in interpreting the ice her husband recovered. Both are convinced that their own analysis is merely a start, and they have put money they have won from scientific prizes into an endowment to preserve the ice cores for future generations.

埃伦·莫斯利-汤普森(Ellen Mosley-Thompson)的大部分实地工作都是在南极完成的,但她在阐释她丈夫钻取的冰样上起了主要作用。他们两人都深信,自己的分析仅仅是个开始。此外,他们已经把自己赢得的各种科学奖金捐作经费,用来为后代子孙保存这些冰芯。

‘It’s Not Your Time’

你的时辰未到


As a young man, Dr. Thompson stayed in shape by training for and running marathons. He now realizes his health began a slow decline sometime in his 40s.

年轻的时候,汤普森通过长跑训练和跑马拉松来保持健康。现在他意识到,早在四十来岁的时候,他的健康状况就开始慢慢地走下坡路了。

Dr. Bowen, a physicist and mountain climber, accompanied Dr. Thompson on several expeditions to write the definitive book about him. He said that atop Mount Kilimanjaro, “my heart went out to Lonnie as I lay in my tent at 20,000 feet and listened to him just hack away, coughing his lungs out. It happened almost every night for four weeks, yet we were all amazed when he got up during the day and was still as productive as four normal people.”

为了撰写一本有关汤普森的权威书籍,物理学家、登山爱好者鲍恩曾数次参加汤普森的探险之旅。他说,在乞力马扎罗山顶的时候,“我躺在20000英尺高处的帐篷里,听着朗尼不断地咳嗽,肺都要咳出来了,心里充满了对他的同情。四周以来,几乎每个晚上都是如此,然而,让我们大家惊讶不已的是,白天他仍然起得来,工作的效率仍然跟四个正常人一样高。”

Fifteen years ago, Dr. Thompson was treated for asthma, but he now suspects that the diagnosis was incomplete. He learned in 2009 that he had congestive heart failure, but kept to a schedule of expeditions to New Guinea and the Alps.

十五年前,汤普森曾因哮喘而接受治疗,但是他现在怀疑,当时的诊断并不彻底。2009年,他得知自己患有充血性心力衰竭,即便如此,他还是坚持完成了前往新几内亚和阿尔卑斯山的探险征程。

For a time, “he was in complete denial,” his wife said. His doctors cannot say for certain that his work contributed to his health problems. Dr. Thompson notes that he has a family history of heart disease.

有段时间,“他完全否认自己的病情,”他妻子说。汤普森的医生无法断言他的健康问题与他的工作有关,他自己则注意到,他的家族有心脏病史。

Last fall, he reached a point where he could barely walk. He wound up in the hospital, drifting in and out of consciousness for days as his failing heart struggled to keep him alive. More than once, his wife and their daughter, Regina, were told he might not survive the night.

去年秋天,他病得几乎无法走路,只好住进医院,几天里都是时昏时醒,而他那颗行将崩溃的心脏正在尽力维持他的生命。不止一次,大夫告诉他妻子和女儿雷吉娜(Regina),或许他活不过今晚了。

It was deep in one of his comatose periods, he figures, that he had the dream. He described jumping through space and landing in a beautiful spot filled with flowers and streams. There, he said, a figure in white spoke to him.

他说,某一次深度昏迷的时候,他做了一个梦。他描述说,他在梦中跃过莽莽空间,降落到了一个满是鲜花和溪流的美丽处所。他还说,那里有一个一身白衣的人。

“It’s not your time,”’ the figure told him. “You have another purpose.”

“你的时辰还没到,”那个人告诉他。“你还有另外一个使命。”

Dr. Thompson is not a particularly religious man, and he does not try to explain the dream, but his memory of it is vivid.

汤普森不是一个特别热衷宗教的人。他没有试着去解释这个梦,这个梦的记忆却清清楚楚地留在了他的心里。

The battery-powered equipment doctors implanted in his chest helped him get better and leave the hospital as he waited on the organ list. By the spring, he had resumed a limited work schedule, cranking out papers with colleagues around the world.

医生把一台电池驱动的设备植入了他的胸腔,让他可以在等待器官捐献的期间康复出院。今年春天,他已经恢复了部分的工作日程,开始与遍布全球的同事一起撰写论文。

He was at his desk on May 1 when the phone rang. He walked next door to his wife’s office.

5月1日,电话响了起来,当时他正在自己的办公桌前。接下来,他走到隔壁,走进了妻子的办公室。

“My heart is here,” he told her.

“我的心脏到了。”他告诉她。

He underwent the transplant that evening. The donor’s family most likely does not know that the decision they made saved the life of a world-famous scientist. He is writing a letter in hopes of thanking them some day.

当晚,他接受了心脏移植手术。十之八九,捐献人的家庭并不知道他们的决定挽救了一个闻名世界的科学家的生命。汤普森打算写一封信,希望有天能感谢他们。

Back in his office in early June, after the transplant, his face glowed a healthy pink. “I feel better than I have in 20 years,” he said.

移植手术之后,他在6月初重返办公室,脸上泛着健康的粉红色。他说,“我现在的感觉比以往20年都要好。”

Dr. Thompson knows he needs to go slowly, but he has already started eyeing an unexplored ice cap in China.

汤普森知道自己得慢慢来,饶是如此,他也已经盯上了中国的一处未经探索的冰冠。

One of the greatest achievements of modern climate science was the recovery of ice cores in Antarctica that allowed a detailed reconstruction of the earth’s climate for the past 800,000 years. Dr. Thompson suspects an even longer record could be recovered by drilling at the right spot in Tibet.

现代气候科学的最伟大成就之一就是钻取南极的冰芯,这样就可以详细重构过去80万年里地球的气候状况。汤普森推测,只要在西藏钻对了地方,甚至更长时期的冰川记录也可以复原。

Last year, he pulled strings in Russia and asked for an astronaut on the International Space Station to photograph a certain ice cap. A Chinese scouting party has already checked it out, and drilling a core seems possible, if he regains his strength.

去年,他动用自己在俄国的关系,请求国际空间站上的一名宇航员为一个特定的冰冠拍照。中国的一个考察团已经调查过那个冰冠的情况,如果他能够重振雄风的话,钻取那里的冰芯似乎是一件可能的事情。

Other people could probably do it without him, but that is not a thought he cares to entertain.

没有他,其他人多半也能把事情办成,但是,他压根就接受不了这样的想法。

“I’m going back,” he said with a wide grin. “I’m looking for the oldest ice on the planet.”

“我要回去,”他咧开大嘴,笑着说道。“我要寻找地球上最古老的冰层。
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