Posts by Manon Verchot

Doctor Accused of Taking Artifacts from Glacier

Posted by on Oct 13, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

Doctor Accused of Taking Artifacts from Glacier

Spread the News:ShareA doctor from Mono County, California has been accused of looting Native American artifacts from a melting glacier on public and tribal lands in Death Valley National Park. Jonathan Bourne, an anesthesiologist, was indicted on 21 counts of looting following a yearlong investigation that began after he posted photos of himself finding a wooden bow out of a receding glacier in the High Sierra. Dart points, obsidian cutting tools, stone tablets and glass beads were also among Bourne’s alleged findings. Some of these artifacts are believed to have been removed from a cremation and burial site in the Humboldt–Toiyabe National Forest. “Collecting artifacts on public lands is not harmless fun — it’s a serious crime,” Greg Haverstock, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management archaeologist told the Los Angeles Times. “It damages archaeological records and the shared heritage of our nation. It also impacts tribal members who regard the removal of such items as sacrilegious.” Archaeologists reported wood splinters they found in the glacier matched the wood in Bourne’s bow. Investigators from the U.S. Forest Service found about 30,000 ancient items in a search of his mansion, according to authorities. Bob Burd, a resident of Fresno who organised the hike where Bourne found the bow, wrote on a hiking club website that Bourne used stones to cut through the ice that surrounded the bow. No mention has been made of which Native American community the bow comes from. Bourne’s lawyer, Mark Coleman said Bourne “spotted a piece of wood, which appeared to be recently exposed from an ice patch as a result of global warming. Recognizing that if the item had any historical significance it would quickly decay from exposure, Dr. Bourne recovered the item.” Last week, the doctor pleaded not guilty in court and will return before the judge later this year. If convicted, Bourne’s charges could amount to 98 years in prison and $2.03 million in fines. It is not the first case to address the unlawful removal of Native American artifacts from public and tribal lands. Spread the...

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Roundup: Climate Park, Microbes and Variability

Posted by on Oct 12, 2015 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

Roundup: Climate Park, Microbes and Variability

Spread the News:SharePark in Norway Aims  to Raise Climate Awareness “Increased ice melting revealed in 2006–2007 many reminiscences of ancient human activity around ice patches near Mt Galdhøpiggen, Norway’s highest mountain peak. The public limited company ‘Klimapark 2469 AS’ was established to develop a heritage interpretation product and to study climate change. A 60-metre long ice tunnel is excavated in the ice patch Juvfonna, where guided walks and a display presenting climate change, archeology, Norse mythology, and glaciology are offered. […] An important outcome is the fruitful exchange of experiences, between public and private partners, tourism and science interests, amateurs and professionals, and between local, regional and national actors.” Read more about the park here. Microbial Life Thrives in Glacier Foreland Soil “To reveal temporal variability of archaeal and bacterial abundance, community structure, as well as microbial biomass and activity, soils of different ages (young, intermediate, mature) were sampled along a glacier foreland in the Austrian Central Alps, at the beginning (summer) and at the end (autumn) of the plant growing season. […] Our results indicate that temporal variations of microbial activities, biomass, and abundance in alpine glacier foreland soils distinctly increased along with the age of the soils and highlight the importance of sampling date for ecological studies.” Read the full study here. Sediments in Lake Reveals Clues About Glacier Variability “The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. Holocene proxy time-series are increasingly used to put this amplified response in perspective by understanding Arctic climate processes beyond the instrumental period. However, available datasets are scarce, unevenly distributed and often of coarse resolution. Glaciers are sensitive recorders of climate shifts and variations in rock-flour production transfer this signal to the lacustrine sediment archives of downstream lakes. Here, we present the first full Holocene record of continuous glacier variability on Svalbard from glacier-fed Lake Hajeren. This reconstruction is based on an undisturbed lake sediment core that covers the entire Holocene and resolves variability on centennial scales owing to 26 dating points.” Take a look at the study here. Spread the...

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The Microscopic Life of Glaciers

Posted by on Oct 7, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

The Microscopic Life of Glaciers

Spread the News:ShareThough it can be hard to imagine that cold, barren-looking glaciers are conducive to life, glaciers are actually teeming with organisms. Glacier surfaces are filled with cylindrical holes called cyroconite holes, in which melt water accumulates and micro-algae and cyanobacteria  thrive. Now, a new study published in Biogeosciences has taken a closer look at these complex ecosystems to better understand the interactions between the organisms that inhabit this icy space. They found that Svalbard glaciers that received large quantities of deposits from local areas tended to have large amounts of microalgae. These microalgae can create large colonies to protect them from invertebrate grazers like tardigrades, minute animals also known as water bears, and other microscopic animals like rotifers and ciliates. Large microalgae colonies can protect themselves from the filtration feeding strategy used by rotifers. The researchers studied these mini-ecosystems on four glaciers in Svalbard, a Norwegian Archipelago. Each sample had a different level of exposure to nutrients, water depth and the degree to which the cyroconite holes were isolated so that the researchers could separately analyze the effects of environmental factors and other biological interactions, such as animals grazing on the microalgae. Under a microscope, the researchers identified the different species of tardigrades and rotifers. They also measured the density of microalgae clusters and the types of microalgae and cyanobacteria. In glaciers farther away from glacier-free land, the microalgae species differed from glaciers closer to land. Species variability could be attributed to wind transport, the researchers suggest. “We propose that selection occurs because polar cyanobacteria are often associated with dust in soil, and thus easily transported by 20 wind,” they wrote. Levels of nitrogen deposits from bird guano and tundra may also play a role in determining which species of microalgae lived where, but the researchers felt this factor was less important than wind transportation. The species and quantities of grazers, on the other hand, did not vary much from site to site. Grazer types were also correlated with the types of microalgae found in different cyroconite holes. Rotifers tended to live around Zygnemales and Chlorococcales, while tardigrades were usually found around larger Zygnemales. “The high abundances of tardigrades, rotifers, and ciliates, including genera with different feeding strategies, have been found and suggest a complex food web between more trophic levels than measured in the present study,” the authors wrote. “Feeding experiments and analysis of stomach contents may help to bring a more detailed picture of this yet hardly known food web.” Spread the...

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Glacier Lake Bursts in Alaska

Posted by on Oct 6, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

Glacier Lake Bursts in Alaska

Spread the News:ShareWhen Paul Gowen, 83, saw turquoise-green water spilling into the Frederick Sound and Wrangell Narrows in Alaska at the end of last month, he knew a glacier lake on the Baird Glacier had burst. Further up the Frederick Sound, residents noticed a larger quantity of icebergs and stronger currents. “This is amazing, this turquoise color as far as we can see on Frederick Sound,” he told the local radio station, K-FSK, at the time. “It’s very unusual to have this much outwash of color.” Outburst floods on glaciers are not uncommon — water accumulates within the ice or in dips, but eventually breaks through the ice barrier holding it in. The turquoise-green colour of the water comes from sediments that tend to accumulate in glacier lakes, often called glacial flour or milk. Climate change is expected to increase the risk of Glacial Lake Outburst Flooding as glacier melt accelerates, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Locals describe unprecedented outburst flood at Baird #Glacier: http://t.co/GUpKqKqxuj pic.twitter.com/02Kywlmt4Q — William Colgan (@GlacierBytes) September 27, 2015 The last time a lake burst on the Baird Glacier was 1991, though the event was much smaller. Between 2000 and 2009, the glacier had lost 10 to 20 metres of thickness.  Later, glaciologist Mauri Pelto reported in 2013 that two large lakes 400-600 metres were expanding. Closer investigation from the U.S. Forest Service in the area found that the most recent September flood likely originated in the Witches Cauldron branch of the glacier. “There’s no water,” Jim Baichtal, Geologist for the U.S. Forest Service said. “It’s all gone and it looks like there’s been a tremendous amount of collapse of the surface of the ice.” The glacier’s surface has new crevasses, sinkholes, and fractures. According to Baichtal, the surface may have sunk 50 or 60 feet after the flood. Government officials will have to keep an eye on the glacier, as it will be hard to predict whether another flood is likely. “You can really have a situation where a place essentially gets safer in terms of natural hazards or you can have the opposite,” said Martin Truffer, a glaciologist at the University of Alaska. Baird Glacier #jokulhaup is turquoise green for some reason @TongassNF http://t.co/euU9yZvwMy pic.twitter.com/gnFUhwvxN5 — FSologists Alaska (@FSologists_AK) September 30, 2015     Spread the...

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Rhone Watershed At Risk from Climate Change

Posted by on Oct 1, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

Rhone Watershed At Risk from Climate Change

Spread the News:ShareResearchers, policy experts and agency managers have long recognized that water resources are influenced both by global climate processes and by regional environmental dynamics.  In a close examination of an economically important region in the Swiss Alps, reseachers recently found that land use change have a much smaller impact on glacier and snow melt than climate change. An assessment of stream flow during different times of year also revealed a lower peak flow and an earlier start to peak flows driven by melting snow and glaciers. The findings support previous research on annual melt in the region, and strengthen the understanding of the causes of the changes. By emphasizing the importance of climate change, this research can help shape policies to address declining water resources. Water flowing from high altitudes in the Alps plays a significant role in Switzerland’s tourism industry, hydroelectricity production and feeds into the Rhone River and Lake Geneva. Every summer, runoff from snowmelt and the Rhone Glacier enters the Rhone River, which, at 167.5 kilometers in length, is one of the longest and most important in the country. “The entire upper Rhone watershed is of paramount importance because 11 large hydropower plants are located in this watershed,” the authors wrote. “Therefore, a model could lead to a better understanding of the current inflow situation and scenario analysis could help in planning better downstream water management.” By using data to create land maps and developing models, researchers from Stanford University, the University of Geneva and the Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change in Graz, Austria, found that if the world continues on a business as usual trajectory in which greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed, streamflow from the Swiss Alps will be greatly reduced as a result of glacier loss. Climate change will also lead to reduced agricultural production, which in turn will promote forest growth as farmers take lands out of cultivation. This change will also impact stream flow, since trees will absorb precipitation and reduce runoff into streams, though the impact of climate change was found to be more significant. This importance could be related to lower levels of land use change in high altitudes, the authors concluded. Models were developed to assess glacier melt and land use change for two periods, between 2011 and 2025, and between 2026 and 2050. The models included a number of  physical processes, including ocean precipitation, transpiration, snow melt and glacier melt. Researchers also used a Soil and Water Assessment Tool to determine water flow. “Since the runoff in this watershed is driven by snow and glacier melt, the early melt could lead to several consequences, the most severe of which is on hydropower based energy production,” the authors wrote. “Early melt will cause an early filling of reservoirs and result in a shortage during peak flows. Therefore, the result obtained from this study can be useful for water management in the Rhone Valley.” In this way, their findings correspond to other studies elsewhere in  Europe, in Latin America and Asia, which also show that glacier retreat will have negative effects on hydropower–a source of renewable energy which could reduced the dependence of global economies on fossil fuels. Studies such as these are thus of great importance for formulating responses to climate change.   Spread the...

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