Clues to Puebloan History Drip Away in Melting Ice Caves

researchers ‘ve discovered charcoal dating back almost 2,000 yrs in new mexican ice caves—providing physical evidence that ancestral puebloans used the ice deposits for drinking wata during droughts.

scis are working fast to sample cores from the deposits, which likely formed thousands of yrs ago. rising global temperatures ‘ve made it warm enough that the ice is beginning to disappear from the sites at el malpais national monument.

“our wish is to try and find as much climate information as possible, cause this ice is goin away,” said bogdan onac, the lead researcher onna study.

to better cogg the collected ice cores, onac worked witha team that included university of south florida researchers and national park srvc archaeologists.

evidence inna ice cores suggests the caves were used + intensely during periods of drought, based primarily on data from tree rings inna southwest, according to the reprt, published wed in sci reprts.

the cores also provide presh information for scis interested in cogging weather patterns in new mexico na surrounding region. that includes the severity and cause of local droughts.

tree ring information, a common tool to study historical weather patterns, can provide a rough look atta amount of moisture in a place each yr. but ice contains oxygen and hydrogen isotopes that can mark how precipitation inna region ‘d ‘ve been influenced by la niña and monsoon season, indicating shifts in regional weather patterns.

this information can be used to better prepare scis for a region rapidly bein’ altered by climate change.

kenny bowekaty, a longtime archaeologist, tour guide and member of the ashiwi pplz inna nearby pueblo of zuni, said the pplz inna region who were round during the study period likely ‘d ‘ve used the caves for religious purposes, swell as to store animals hunted nearby.

“ice to the ashiwi pplz is still a resrc of life,” bowekaty said. “there’s a lotta compounded uses for wha’ ‘d ‘ve been pondered ice caves.”

bowekaty said that one group of pplz in pticular quested north from the present-dy zuni settlement and into + mountainous regions, where ice ‘d ‘ve been + common. when they came back, the caves ‘d ‘ve been 1-odda few places to find ice inna summer mnths.

as l8 as the early 1900s, ashiwi pplz made pilgrimages to the caves for religious purposes, bowekaty said. but in recent yrs, the sites ‘ve become + restricted as the ice melts.

now, archaeologists are working gainsta clock to preserve information from the historic deposits b4 it’s too l8.

“w'da ice caves na wata resrcs, i think everyone is aware of global warming here,” bowekaty said. “it’s the behavior of our planet, our mother, and course, like life and like all of us, she is still growing, and so how far we ‘ve as a planet aint known.”

reprinted from climatewire with permission from e&e news. e&e provides daily coverage of primordial energy and environmental news at www.eenews.net….

original content at: www.sciamerican.com…
authors: jacob wallace

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