Climate Change Solves Mysteries: Ice Mummies Discovered Under Andes Glaciers

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Getty / WWF

It’s hard to argue that global warming can be a good thing, but here’s proof. (via New York Times)

An article in the New York Times explores how the melting of glaciers up high in the Andes is throwing up secrets once hidden in the ice.

These include the bodies of many people who had gone missing. The NYT spotlights the story of Rafael Pabón, a Bolivian pilot whose plane vanished in 1990 and was found, along with Pabón’s body, by a trekker just two months ago. The climber who made the grisly find tells the NYT: “There are more ice mummies in the peaks above us. Melting glaciers will bring them to us.”

Pabón’s discovery offered much needed closure for the pilot’s mother after two decades of uncertainty. Across the whole craggy range of the Andes, there are countless similar cases of the disappeared — and in coming years scientists and explorers expect to find more evidence of plane wreckage here and elsewhere.

(More at NewsFeed: The melting of Peru’s sacred glacier)

The imposing peaks of the remote, northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which borders the Chinese region of Tibet, still holds the remains of dozens, if not hundreds, of U.S. pilots from World War II in its icy grip. In a bid to aid nationalist Chinese troops resisting the Japanese, the U.S. carried aid supplies from India over this treacherous terrain — known as “the Hump” — to the free Chinese city of Kunming for some three years between 1942 and 1945.

Many planes crashed; one was recently found by a rugged local trekker just this past June.

Of course, the mountains hold much more than the remains of smashed planes and their unfortunate passengers. The NYT article documents the recent unearthing of three five-hundred-year old Incan children in the north of Argentina, their bodies and clothing astonishingly preserved, as if virtually no time had passed since that faraway day they were entombed in the mountains.

If the snows melt, even deeper histories may come to light.

— By Ishaan Tharoor