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Three people examine an ice core.
Photo Credit: Ellen Mosley-Thompson/Ohio State University
Ellen Mosley-Thompson, left, assists cutting an ice core drilled along the Antarctic Peninsula with Roberto Filippi and Benjamin Vicencio, during fieldwork in 2010. Mosley-Thompson and her husband Lonnie Thompson will be among nine individuals honored by The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia later this year at an awards ceremony for their paleoclimate research.

In good company

Thompsons to receive prestigious award given to Einstein, Edison

Two climate scientists at The Ohio State University External Non-U.S. government site, known for their paleoclimate research using ice cores drilled from around the world, will be among nine individuals honored by The Franklin Institute External Non-U.S. government site in Philadelphia later this year at an awards ceremony.

Lonnie Thompson External Non-U.S. government site, distinguished university professor of earth sciences, and Ellen Mosley-Thompson External Non-U.S. government site, distinguished university professor of geography and director of the Byrd Polar Research Center External Non-U.S. government site, will receive the Institute’s award for Earth and Environmental Science during ceremonies in April.

Their award citation reads:

“For their contributions to our understanding of the Earth’s climate history from the chemical and physical properties of ice cores, which have demonstrated the important role of the low latitudes in global climate change and earth system dynamics.”

The Thompsons
Photo Credit: The Ohio State University
Lonnie Thompson and Ellen Mosley-Thompson

Founded in honor of America’s first scientist, Benjamin Franklin, The Franklin Institute is one of America’s oldest centers of science education and development. The tradition of The Franklin Institute Awards dates back to 1824. Past awardees have included Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright, Jane Goodall and Bill Gates.

The Thompsons are the first husband-and-wife scientists to receive the award since Nobel Prize-winners Pierre and Marie Curie were honored in 1909.

“Receiving the Benjamin Franklin Medal is very humbling in light of the accomplishments of both past and current awardees,” Mosley-Thompson said in a press release from the university External Non-U.S. government site. “I am very proud to be associated with this long-established organization that is firmly dedicated to promoting transformative scholarship, engaging the public in science and engineering and advancing science literacy.”

“I am truly honored to receive the Benjamin Franklin Medal that recognizes both Benjamin Franklin and the many contributions that have transformed human life,” Thompson said in the same university press release. “Future challenges for humanity stemming from global climate change will require our collective efforts to elevate climate change discussions to both the national and global stages.”

Thompson has led at least 58 expeditions to some of the world’s most remote, high-altitude ice fields on five continents. Mosley-Thompson has headed nine expeditions to Antarctica and six expeditions to Greenland to retrieve ice cores containing clues about ancient climate.

Recently, Mosley-Thompson and Thompson were co-principal investigators on a National Science Foundation External U.S. government site-funded program called LARISSA External Non-U.S. government site, for LARsen Ice Shelf System, Antarctica. The ongoing project is an interdisciplinary program to study as many facets of an ice shelf ecosystem as possible following the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002. [See previous article — Tough as ice: OSU team drills record core to bedrock despite operational setbacks and the link LARISSA.]

Mosley-Thompson led the team in 2010 that drilled a 445.6-meters-long ice core, the longest ever recovered from the Antarctic Peninsula region. The climate record gleaned from the core may provide new insight into past global climate changes since the end of the last ice age in Antarctica.

Both researchers will receive their awards April 26, 2012, at The Franklin Institute, as part of a week of events aimed at highlighting science education.

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