Posts by Brittany Watts

Glacier Hazards Linked to Prolonged PTSD in Kids

Posted by on Dec 18, 2014 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts | 0 comments

Glacier Hazards Linked to Prolonged PTSD in Kids

Spread the News:ShareIn June 2013, several days of torrential rains bombarded India’s northern state of Uttarakhand causing devastating glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs), river flooding, and landslides. This event is considered to be the country’s worst natural disaster since the 2004 tsunami. Packed with Hindu pilgrimage sites, temples, and tourists, Uttarakhand saw entire settlements washed away. Roads were heavily damaged, stranding over 70,000 people and causing food shortages. Local rivers were flooded with dead bodies for more than a week, contaminating water supplies for the survivors. Based on post-disaster studies, researchers from St. John’s Medical College in Bengaluru, India recently published findings indicating that the Uttarakhand flooding may have provoked sustained levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adolescents in the region. The study, which was conducted three months after the disaster, found a 32 percent prevalence of PTSD and a wide-range of stress levels amongst the youth of one the hardest hit districts, Uttarkashi. In order to secure these findings, the research team obtained consent from 268 adolescents at a high school in Uttarkashi. They assessed the mental health of the students by administering the Trauma Screening Questionnaire, an PTSD assessment recognized in the U.S., the U.K., and elsewhere. Another structured questionnaire was used to gather demographic information. The average age of children who participated in the study was 14.8, with slightly more male respondents than female. Because of a lack of mental health care infrastructure in Uttarkashi, researchers were not able to prove the glacier-related event directly caused the high rates of PTSD amongst the students in this region. However, a similar study of 411 high school students, conducted prior to 2012 in Pune, India found a lower rate of PTSD (8.9 percent for girls, 10.5 for boys). These students had not suffered from a recent natural disaster related event. A meta-study of 72 peer-reviewed articles of US children and adolescents exposed to trauma found an overall rate of PTSD of nearly 16 percent.. A study of 533 tsunami victims in South India found a much higher rate of PTSD, roughly 70.7 percent for acute PTSD and almost 11 percent for delayed onset PTSD. Although there are many factors that may be able to explain the difference in rates, the increased prevalence of PTSD in the Uttarakashi youth certainly signals a link between glacial hazards and PTSD in children. The researchers from St. John’s Medical College note that past research has been able to establish the relationship in adult subjects between natural disasters and PTSD, “the most prevalent psychological disorder after disaster.” Thus, they claim there is a need for greater recognition of post-disaster stress disorder assessment and for interventions among adolescent victims in developing countries. “The majority of disaster studies have focused on adults, although adolescents seem to be more vulnerable to psychological impairment after disaster which manifests in a variety of complex psychological and behavioral manifestations,” wrote the authors of the study. The exact cause of the 2013 Uttarakashi district flooding is contested; however, the unyielding rains contributed to heavy melting of the Chorabari Glacier, 3,800 meters above sea level, and this was a significant catalyst in the event. During the week of June 20, melting at Chorabari, due to above average rainfall, led to the formation of a temporary glacial lake. Further torrential rains caused this lake to swell and overflow, inducing flash flooding and disastrous landslides and mudslides. “Eyewitnesses describe how a sudden gush of water engulfed the centuries-old Kardarnath temple, and washed away everything in its vicinity in a matter of minutes,” according to Down To Earth Magazine. Glacier-related PTSD risk is...

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Roundup: Glaciovolcanic Mars, Columbia Retreat, Students Lured with Cash

Posted by on Dec 8, 2014 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

Roundup: Glaciovolcanic Mars, Columbia Retreat, Students Lured with Cash

Spread the News:ShareMore Evidence to Prove Existence of Ice-Volcanoes on Mars             “We conclude that glaciovolcanic landforms are abundant in the Arsia Mons fan-shaped deposit. These include landforms interpreted as subglacial pillow sheets larger than any known on Earth.” Read more in Icarus.   Columbia Glacier is Rapidly Retreating: Find out Why                 “Since the 1980s, Columbia Glacier has lost about half of its thickness, according to NASA. Between then and now, there were years with particularly rapid shedding of ice chunks, creating a “mélange” of floating icebergs that rafted together, as the NASA time-lapse images show.” Read more here.   $400 per Month to Study Glaciers? Sounds like a good deal!                   “A student pursuing a doctorate in glaciology makes 47,000 Swiss francs ($49,000) a year in Switzerland, C$20,500 ($18,000) in Canada and about $14,000 in the U.S.” Read more in Bloomberg.   Spread the...

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Major Conference Attracts Continuing Attention to Black Carbon

Posted by on Nov 28, 2014 in Adaptation, All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Major Conference Attracts Continuing Attention to Black Carbon

Spread the News:ShareThis past month, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the Nepalese Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment hosted the International Conference on Mountain People Adapting to Climate Change. The large attendance and extensive coverage of this conference brought a great deal of attention for the Hindu Kush Himalaya region and its specific climate vulnerability. One of the central topics of discussion during the conference was the effect of black carbon deposits on the region’s glaciers. Although there is some lingering uncertainty about the precise magnitude and reach of the effects of this substance, members of the conference agreed that evidence is sufficient to begin the creation of  goals to reduce it in the near future. Building #climateresilience for mountain people http://t.co/eEwt5aCnH3 @icimod pic.twitter.com/O5o1hES6ue — UNFCCC (@UN_ClimateTalks) November 13, 2014 Reaching this consensus is important, because the Hindu Kush Himalaya range is essential to the health of the greater Asian continent. The range spans eight countries, covers 3 million square kilometers, and is the source of ten of Asia’s major river systems. The effects of black carbon on the region’s glaciers could have broadly negative consequences for ecosystems and livelihoods. Black carbon has a double impact. Primarily, it darkens snow and ice. The dark color allows more sunlight to be absorbed by the snow and ice, which increases melting. Secondarily, black carbon is an air pollutant,. Although the tiny particles do not remain in the air for long periods, they can be inhaled by humans and cause serious respiratory problems. Though they remain currently unrestricted, black carbon emissions are becoming an increasing concern in the region. Sources of black carbon in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region include cook-stoves, diesel vehicles, and the industrial burning of coal. In fact, one third of the black carbon suspended in the atmosphere hovers over India and China, and these particles cause at least 30% or more of the melting of glaciers in the region. Many of the gravest effects of black carbon have been well established in scientific literature, but some aspects of the substance remain up for debate. Nonetheless, “it is never wrong to start to reduce emissions of black carbon as soon as possible and as vigorously as possible,” concludes Dr. Arun Shrestha, Senior Climate Change Specialist at ICIMOD. Shifts to other forms of energy use could reduce black carbon significantly. We work with uncertainities, role of #science should be in reducing them, says Atiq Rahman @icimod #adaptHKH pic.twitter.com/aOct9LPSOt — Udayan Mishra (@oootheyan) November 10, 2014 The conference was a clear step toward covering these critical topics in meaningful ways. “The conference’s outcome will not change everyday life of mountain people right from tomorrow,” stated Dr. David Molden, the ICIMOD’s Director General, to Xinhuanet, “but it will help us formulate policies for better adaptation solutions.” The conference marked a shift in decision-making practices, because it brought together environmental and health experts. Their efforts are bringing black carbon to a more prominent position in adaptation planning. Spread the...

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Photo Friday: 71 Performers, 1 Unforgettable Affair

Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: 71 Performers, 1 Unforgettable Affair

Spread the News:Share Requiem for a Glacier Excerpt: Gradual from Paul Walde on Vimeo. This week’s slideshow features live action shots of Requiem for a Glacier, the sound performance and video installation by intermedia artist Paul Walde. The purpose of the work is to pay tribute to British Columbia’s Jumbo Glacier area, comprised of five glaciers. Recently, the area has come under numerous threats including global warming and the possibility of a resort development. The project takes three main forms a) a site specific outdoor performance; b) an exhibition/installation featuring audio and video footage of the performance; and c) a multimedia sound indoor performance. Click here for more information on this innovative masterpiece. Requiem for A Glacier Requiem for a Glacier Conductor Requiem for a Glacier Performance Visitors to the Requiem for a Glacier Exhibition Requiem for A Glacier Performer 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.   Spread the...

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Glaciers + Algal Blooms = Good?

Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

Glaciers + Algal Blooms = Good?

Spread the News:ShareThe pros and cons of algal blooms, high concentrations of phytoplankton in the oceans, are a subject of much debate. But several studies in recent months have examined links between changing polar environments, exponential growth of algal blooms, and potential for carbon reduction. One study, appearing in the journal Nature Communications in May 2014, suggests that ocean iron from glacial melt could have positive effects for polar regions in the face of global warming because of the nutrient quality for algae. “The theory goes that the more iron you add, the more productive these plankton are,” John Hawking, a doctoral student at the University of Bristol and lead author of the study, told Scientific American in May. The University of Bristol study examined the amount of a specific type of iron (bioavailable ferrihydrite) released in glacial melt water from the Leverett Glacier in Greenland. The levels of this form of iron found in the glacier allowed Hawking to estimate that an iron flux of up to 400,000 to 2.5 million metric tons could be flowing from Greenland annually. These releases have the potential to be transported up to 900 km from the site of origin and to greatly affect the global iron cycle. New findings coming out of a NASA-sponsored expedition off the coasts of Alaska discovered a massive algal bloom in this polar region as well. Contrary to Hawking’s study, the ICESCAPE expedition conducted by NASA in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas determined the growth in algae was a product of younger and thinning ice. Because of the changes in ice density due to Alaska’s warming climate, more sunlight is able to reach the water underneath the ice packs, according to researchers on the expedition. Therefore, the environment is more favorable for the phytoplankton. Historically, expanding algae populations in other parts of the globe have generated many negative side effects. For example, the decay of algae during a bloom can suck nutrients and oxygen out of the water creating a dead zone. These low-oxygen areas reduce the productivity of wildlife, decrease their productive capacity, and can even kill them. Further, humans experience the effects of algal blooms through the ingestion of toxic substances via shellfish. Yet, in the wake of information about the connection of algae growth and a warming world, studies are taking more effort to explore the positive consequences of algal blooms. A study conducted by the USGS Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution proposes that increases of phytoplankton in polar regions will serve as a new food source for wildlife and will offer increased carbon capture in these areas. The greater numbers of phytoplankton, the greater volume of carbon the population will consume during photosynthesis. Some scientists believe an increasing number of algal blooms will deplete carbon stores in the ocean, resulting in greater absorption of atmospheric carbon by the sea. Additionally, when the phytoplankton die, they often retain much of the stored carbon and carry it down to the ocean floor. Scientists are not certain how the interplay between phytoplankton and ocean carbon will develop because ocean uptake of carbon (especially, in the deep water) can occur on a long timescale, and because it is not yet clear how much carbon is retained versus released during algae death. With all of this in mind, scientists are hopeful that the correlation of glacial melt, encouraging environments, and algal growth will have a net-positive effect. Further study of this natural bioengineering project will definitely aide scientists in understanding climate change trends.   Spread the...

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