Posts by Brittany Watts

Round-Up: Melt Music, An Artist’s View, and Eruptions

Posted by on Feb 23, 2015 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Round-Up: Melt Music, An Artist’s View, and Eruptions

Spread the News:Share Salvatore Vitale’s Glacier Art  “This is the beginning of a project that aims to explore the powerful nature of a living creature in constant evolution. I want to show how such a powerful creature can be so fragile. In those pictures you can see their magnificence, but at the same time all their fragility.” See the images at Salvatore Vitale’s website   Glacial Melt Sounds Pave the Way for New Research “Researchers in Poland and the UK used underwater microphones to record the sound of ice calving away from a glacier in Norway.” Have a listen with BBC News   Study Finds Increased Volcanic Activity Due to Changes in Glaciers   “Melting ice is causing the land to rise up in Iceland – and perhaps elsewhere. The result, judging by new findings on the floor of the Southern Ocean, could be a dramatic surge in volcanic eruptions.” Read more at New Scientist   Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Yaks

Posted by on Feb 20, 2015 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Yaks

Spread the News:ShareYaks are the grandfathers of glacial areas in Asia. Exemplifying the remote and untamed essence of the locations they inhabit, most wild male yaks live very solitary lives. However, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, “greater yak densities [can be found] near glaciers, which often support adjacent food-rich alpine meadows.” Thus, the health of glaciers is directly linked to the health of this majestic species. For more on the link between yaks and glaciers, read “Bhutan’s Glaciers and Yak Herds are Shrinking.”   on the way to everest Yaks in Yunnan Lhotse Moraine This yak lives in the hills of Nepal. (Photo: Flickr) Artistic image of Yak near Mt. Everest. (Photo: Flickr) Yak Grazing in Tibet Spread the...

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From Family Huts to Luxury Lodges in Nepal

Posted by on Feb 4, 2015 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, Tourism, Uncategorized | 0 comments

From Family Huts to Luxury Lodges in Nepal

Spread the News:ShareNepal is becoming more and more popular with tourists because of its majestic glaciers and towering mountain peaks. Traditionally known as a mountainous escape for adventurous trekkers, it is becoming more attractive for all types of travelers as the region modernizes to accommodate them. The recent democratization of the country, which saw the election of its first president in 2008, has also made a wider variety of travelers feel comfortable visiting. As reported by TravelBizNews, an outstanding 798,000 tourists visited Nepal in 2013. But only 13,000 of these individuals were trekkers. The majority of trekkers visit in April and October in order to avoid the monsoon and winter seasons. A recent study, led by Dr. Izumi Morimoto and Dr. Prem Sagar Chapagain, published in the International and Regional Studies Journal asserts that people in the remote regions of Nepal are adapting their lifestyles and changing traditional practices in order to bring a new level of luxury to the region. Signs of such change can be seen in regions as remote as the Manang village, a high-altitude, isolated area landlocked by the Himalayas and famous for its pristine views of mountains and glaciers. Although small in number, the people of Manang have always profited from contact with the outside world. As reported by the government of Nepal, the Manang village is currently comprised of about 630 residents. Most individuals in this region are agropastorialists; yet, according to the researchers, recent years have seen a rapid abandonment of cultivated land, and other methods of income generation are gaining traction. According to the study, “one of the most famous ethnic groups in the context of tourism in Nepal is the Sherpa”. Historically known for their trading expertise and “hardiness”, they have long driven innovation through entrepreneurial trading with other communities and fostering connectedness for the Upper Manang region. These factors, along with Manang’s legendary mountain passes such as the Annapurna Trekking route, have created a nesting ground for a growing tourism industry in this Nepali community. Remote regions like Manang have to work diligently in order to attract tourists who are visiting the country for diverse purposes, other than trekking. Although the study does not cite precise numbers of individuals in Manang involved in the tourism industry, the researchers reveal the numerous adaptations individuals are executing to make this region more hospitable for tourists. These adaptations are changing the texture of everyday life for residents of Manang. For example, individuals who have begun to work in the tourist industry, primarily as hotel staff, have guaranteed work during the peaks of trekking season. However, due to the seasonal fluctuations of visitors, during the winter and monsoon seasons workers have begun migrating outbound in order to secure other opportunities in areas such as Kathmandu. This cycle of migration within Nepal related to hotel work is unprecedented. Another change has been the accommodations offered by hotels in Manang. In prior years, although locals would convert their familial lodgings into “hotels” for trekkers, these residences would often lack bathrooms, lights, and other comforts associated with the Western lifestyle. This situation was standard for residents in the area. Additionally, these humble accommodations were logical for the locale considering their fragile ecosystem, remote location, and the fact that, even in 2014, you can only reach Manang by foot. Despite these obstacles, researchers found that due to societal pressures, current hotel owners in Manang seek to provide a wide range of more modern living technologies ranging from heated water from solar power systems, Western foods from biogas stoves, private bathrooms, sunrooms, Internet connection, and telephone service. One...

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Photo Friday: Seals taking it easy on icebergs

Posted by on Jan 16, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Seals taking it easy on icebergs

Spread the News:ShareSeals are some of the cutest animals found in the Arctic and the Antarctic. This week’s photo friday features seals carrying out their daily activities on icebergs, which are important environmental features in their chilly habitats. The photos include leopard seals and crabeater seals among other species. Photo Friday highlights photo essays and collections from areas with glaciers. If you have photos you’d like to share, let us know in the comments, by Twitter @glacierhub or email us at glacierhub@gmail.com.   seal family taking a nap big white seal on iceberg (photo: flickr) Crabeater Seals in Pléneau Bay, Antartica leopard seal (Photo: flickr) seal on ice Spread the...

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On Tibetan Plateau, Permafrost Melt Worse Than Glacial Melt

Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 in Adaptation, All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

On Tibetan Plateau, Permafrost Melt Worse Than Glacial Melt

Spread the News:ShareAccording to a recent study published in the journal Public Library of Science, glacial melt is taking a backseat in the Himalayas to permafrost melt as a central driver of alpine lake expansion and related environmental hazards. This finding is of great importance to policy-makers and communities, who must prepare for flooding and other hazards which can be caused by the expansion of high-altitude lakes. The study, led by Yingkyui Li of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in partnership with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, determined that patterns of lake changes in the Tibetan Plateau from 1970 to 2010 were more closely associated with changes in permafrost degradation patterns than glacial retreat patterns. This conclusion suggests, at least for this region, the influence of melting glaciers on lake dynamics is outweighed by other environmental processes. Permafrost is an ecologically important element of high-latitude and high-altitude ecosystems. Permafrost is defined as “perennially frozen ground remaining at or below 0°C for at least two consecutive years,” according to a document on the policy implications of warming permafrost, released by UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme). This frozen soil comprises about 24 percent of the exposed land area in the Northern Hemisphere, and is also found in mountainous regions of South America and ice-free regions of Antarctica. The thickness of permafrost is determined by the distance between the top of the permafrost layer, known as the permafrost table, and the bottom, also called the permafrost base. There may be an active layer above this, which thaws and freezes seasonally. The most robust type of permafrost is continuous coverage, where the permafrost table is very thick and extends for many meters into the soil. Areas with larger gaps in the permafrost can be called discontinuous permafrost zones, or sporadic permafrost.   At the outset of the study, researchers did not hypothesize that permafrost would play an active role in Tibetan Plateau lake dynamics. In order to determine the factors which influenced lakes, Li et al. gathered two sorts of data to assess fluctuations in the elevation of lakes. They used historical altimetry data for 94 lakes across the plateau for 2003-2009, and Landsat imagery data for 25 lakes across five different regions in the plateau for1972-2010. They correlated spatio-temporal patterns of lake change with various climate and environmental variables such as precipitation, evapotranspiration, glacier coverage, permafrost coverage, and daily mean temperature trends.   The analysis revealed clear spatio-temporal patterns. Lakes in the southern and western plateau showed continuous shrinkage or stable levels except for slight expansion from 2000-2004. Lakes closest to the Himalayas showed evidence of continuous shrinkage. Lakes located in the central and northern plateau seemed to experience rapid expansion after 2000, though data showed slowed expansion after 2006 in the central region. These expansion trends have been confirmed by other studies, including an article published in April 2014; however, the study led by Yingkyui Li is unique in its long time scale and fine-grained analysis of spatio-temporal patterns. The researchers found, “[there is] no statistically significant correlation between changes in lake levels (2003-2009) and glacier coverage in each lake’s drainage basin.” On the other hand, they were able to conclude, “[the] plateau-wide pattern of lake changes is consistent with the distribution of permafrost on the Tibetan Plateau.” The mechanism that links permafrost melt with lake expansion rests on temperature regimes in the region. When the ground temperature is lower than the melting point of frozen soil, water contribution of permafrost to lakes is limited because the soil remains frozen. However, higher temperatures accelerate permafrost melt, which contributes to lake expansion. An...

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