Roundup: River Outlets, Plant Habitats, and Village Partners

Roundup: Canadian River Vanishes, Plants in the Himalayas and Pakistan’s Villages

Glacier retreat in Canada causes Yukon river to vanish.

From CBCNews: “It’s been the main source of water into Yukon’s Kluane Lake for centuries, but now the Slims River has suddenly slimmed down — to nothing. ‘What folks have noticed this spring is that it’s essentially dried up,” said Jeff Bond of the Yukon Geological Survey. ‘That’s the first time that’s happened, as far as we know, in the last 350 years.’ What’s happened is some basic glacier hydrology, Bond says — essentially, the Kaskawulsh Glacier has retreated to the point where its melt water is now going in a completely different direction, away from the Slims Valley. Instead of flowing north 19 kilometres from the glacier’s toe into Kluane Lake (and ultimately, the Bering Sea), that melt water is now draining eastward via the Kaskawulsh River towards the Pacific Ocean off the Alaska panhandle. It’s a reminder that glacier-caused change is not always glacial-paced.”

Read more about the effects of glacier retreat on the Slims River here:

The Slims River Valley in Canada following glacier retreat (source: Sue Thomas/CBCNews).


The world’s highest vascular plants found in Indian Himalayas.

From Microbial Ecology: “Upward migration of plants to barren [just below the snowl areas is occurring worldwide due to raising ambient temperatures and glacial recession. In summer 2012, the presence of six vascular plants, growing in a single patch, was recorded at an unprecedented elevation of 6150 m.a.s.l. close to the summit of Mount Shukule II in the Western Himalayas (Ladakh, India). Whilst showing multiple signs of stress, all plants have managed to establish stable growth and persist for several years.”

Learn more about the role of microbes in the process of plant upward migration here.

Six plant species found over 6000 meters in the Indian Himalayas (source: Microbial Ecology).


Local struggles in Pakistan show adaptations to glacier thinning.

From Erdkunde: “Framing adaptation as a process of assemblage-building of heterogeneous human and non-human [actors], two village case studies are investigated where glacier thinning has dried up a source of irrigation water, turning cropland into desert. While in the first case case, villagers were able to construct a new and extraordinary water supply scheme with the help of external development agencies, in the second case, several approaches to utilize alternative water sources over three decades were unsuccessful. An account of the adaptation assemblages shows how a diversity of actants such as individual leaders, community, external agencies, construction materials, landslides and geomorphological features play variable and contingent roles in the success or failure of adaptation efforts, thus co-defining their outcome in complex ways.”

Learn more about the adaption efforts to glacier thinning in northern Pakistan here.

View of the Barpu Glacier (source: Michael Spies/Erdkunde)
View of the Barpu Glacier’s former meltwater stream (source: Michael Spies/Erdkunde).
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