Posts by Neha Ganesh

Super-Jeeping: Immersive Learning or Disturbing Nature?

Posted by on May 12, 2015 in All Posts, Communities, Experiences, Featured Posts, News, Tourism | 0 comments

Super-Jeeping: Immersive Learning or Disturbing Nature?

Spread the News:ShareIcelandic glaciers and volcanic landscapes have long been considered important ecotourism and educational locales. As these landscapes change dramatically with the melting of glaciers, seeing what is left of the glaciers becomes increasingly urgent. I experienced a super jeep adventure in South Iceland during a spring break study program in March 2014. This activity was offered as part of the program for experiential learning in the field of energy and sustainability and I was able to see nature and be a part of it by visiting some of the retreating glaciers and experiencing the region around the active volcano of Eyjafjallajökull.  It can be difficult to explore the large, majestic glaciers, but “super jeeps,” specially adapted cars, allow tourists to explore the scenery. These super jeeps are not regular jeeps, but rather ones with strong traction for driving on the many different glacial terrains. They are tall and wide with thick tires, and can seat about seven to eight people. This experience, in addition to being educational, is thrilling, adventurous and enjoyable. A number of companies in the country, such as Icelandic Mountain Guides, Discover Iceland and Glacier Jeeps, offer super jeep tours as part of day and night packages. These companies use ecotourism to attract more tourists and strive to maintain Iceland’s pristine landscapes. Crossing glacier rivers, reaching sites for northern lights viewing,  driving along the coasts of the black sand beaches and traversing rugged terrain of volcanoes such as Eyjafjallajökull are made convenient and exciting through these tours. A study on auto-mobility in Iceland suggests that Iceland’s jeep culture has been around for a very long time. The first automobiles arrived in Iceland in the early years of the twentieth century, but there were virtually no jeeps or other four-wheel drive vehicles until the British and American military occupation of Iceland during World War II. Jeep ownership in the years after the war was limited largely to farmers and a few urban hobbyists, who used them as a means of transport around the island’s rough terrain.  In the 1980s, some technological changes led to the rise of the superjeep. The extra-wide tires, inflated only to a low pressure, were initially used for agricultural purposes such as spreading manure, but proved to work well for driving on snow. Imports of jeeps and specialized tires increased in the late 1980s and even more in the 1990s.  In order to reach the toughest, most challenging regions within their country they included modern technologies such as GPS, ultra-wide tires and electronics converting regular jeeps into super jeeps.   This 15 sec video shows how glacier river crossing is done in a super jeep http://glacierhub.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Glacier-river-crossing.mp4   It was the most exciting adventure sport for me, as an environmental science student. But it is not always considered the most environmentally friendly sport. Most super jeeps are fuelled by imported petroleum or regular diesel – fossil fuels which contribute to the cause of melting glaciers. Experts from the adventure and travel agency South Iceland Adventure, founded in 2010, say the fuel efficiency with “regular diesel fuel is about 20-30L/100Km,” or about 9.5 miles per gallon. Diesel combustion produces black carbon, which is a highly polluting form of particulate matter. Black carbon darkens the surface of glaciers and sea ice when it settles on them, leading to greater absorption of heat and more rapid melting. A study by Yale University researchers found that jeepneys – modified jeeps which are similar to super jeeps — in the Philippines release these black carbon emissions into the atmosphere. One company, the Mountain Taxi, says its jeeps cause minimal to no environmental impact. The company’s website states,...

Read More

Photo Friday: Glacier Crevasses

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

Photo Friday: Glacier Crevasses

Spread the News:ShareWhen glaciers retreat under rocky terrain, they form cracks which vary in width, depth and length. These cracks are called crevasses. A person who encounters a crevasse may appreciate nature’s beauty and form, or find the crevasse very frightening. Glacier climbers often explore crevasses along their way and scientists descend down a crevasse to study and observe glacial features. For this week’s Photo Friday, we present photos of glacier crevasses, courtesy of Flickr users Jono Hay, Clay Junell, daveonhols, Vern, Andrew. E. Larsen and Dan Zelazo. For more information on how glacier crevasses are formed in Iceland, read here. Glacier climbers alongside crevasses Finding the path through several crevasses may be challenging Flickr Image Courtesy: Andrew. E. Larsen Glacier climber, crevasse rescue Sometimes glacier climbers could get trapped in a crevasse, as seen in this image. Flickr Image courtesy: Vern A relatively deep crevasse at a higher altitude Crevasses are formed in large ice sheets or glaciers, at different altitudes Flickr Image Courtesy: Jono Hay Packed crevasses Crevasses can be clean looking or bundled up like shown in this image. Flickr Image Courtesy: Dan Zelazo A glacier climber 'hanging' in a crevasse Depending on the depth of a crevasse, climbers can climb down and hang for a photo op and as adventure Flickr Image Courtesy: Clay Junell Crevasse shapes can vary Here is an image of somewhat circular or elongated crevasses Flickr Image Courtesy: daveonhols 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...

Read More

Participation: The Key to Water Governance in Glacier Regions

Posted by on Apr 22, 2015 in Adaptation, All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

Participation: The Key to Water Governance in Glacier Regions

Spread the News:ShareTo conserve dwindling water resources, government policies will need to ensure that communities which live near main water sources are involved in water management, according to a new study by Margot Hurlbert and Joyeet Gupta. This year, 2015, is marked by a global focus on sustainable development and climate change. Currently, a new set of universal goals, named the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is being negotiated, building off the expiring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Access to clean water and water security remains a top goal and is integrated into all 17 SDGs. The new study suggests that effective stakeholder participation in water management and climate change requires organizational learning and social trust, as well as appropriate policy structures and levels of consensus among stakeholders. A number of questions emerge from a review of successful cases in which stakeholders have been part of effective policy making. For example, how can stakeholder participation be promoted within regional policy making,  and under which circumstances the stakeholder participation will be important for policy making? The researchers use what they term a “split-ladder participation model” to study stakeholder participation and policy under different settings in South America (Mendoza, Argentina and Coquimbo, Chile) and Canada (Alberta and Saskatchewan). They build on an influential 1969 paper by Sherry Arnstein, “A Ladder of Citizen Participation,” which has been cited over 1600 times.  They follow Arnstein’s image of a ladder which ascends from lower ground (less participation) to higher ground (more participation), and amend it by suggesting that the ladder has two split, or partially separated, sides, one with more tightly structured organizaitonal frameworks and one with less tightly structured frameworks. They draw on a set of case studies to document that both sides allow the climb upward to higher levels of participation, though with varying degrees of trust and social learning. The authors propose that this split-ladder approach can serve as a means to examine stakeholder participation in the formulation or implementation of  regional water policy. In the Mendoza region of the Argentine Andes (one of the four case studies presented in the study), local residents depend on glaciers for water supply. Many small communities manage water resources locally and independently in Mendoza. Access to water in this region is closely tied to land ownership, so individuals whose lands are close to the glacier control the meltwater. The authors argue that this control by local landowners allows residents to create sustainable policies and regulations, avoiding the domination of narrow special interest groups. This management, in turns, led to the creation of a Glacier Preservation Law to conserve glaciers as a valued resource. This law has gained public trust over the last couple of years, according to the study.  Water governance varies in the four cases. In Coquimbo, Chile, water is bought through a water market while in in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, water is licensed through government institutions. In Coquimbo, a region also fed by Andean glaciers, water markets and water privatization structure current water management practices. Participation and water governance are monitored via involvement of The Chilean national government, regional government bodies and civil society organizations support participation, though privatization has limited water rights for some stakeholders, and the building of dams  has caused further problems for management of water resources. Water management and participation are handled slightly differently in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, through the provision of government licensing and availability of limited water markets and through water policies in which technical experts and criteria are highly influential. Canada manages drinking water quality standards through a combination of legislation, monitoring and reporting. In Alberta, where glacier meltwater from the Rocky Mountains is an important resource, water conservation efforts are undertaken through the Alberta Water Act 2000 while the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency governs water in Saskatchewan. The levels...

Read More

Roundup: Mars Habitat, Peru Drought, Wildfires

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 in Adaptation, All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, Policy and Economics, Roundup, Science | 0 comments

Roundup: Mars Habitat, Peru Drought, Wildfires

Spread the News:ShareTerrestrial fluvial-lacustrine environments suggest past habitability in Mars “The search for once-habitable locations on Mars is increasingly focused on environments dominated by fluvial and lacustrine processes, such as those investigated by the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. The availability of liquid water coupled with the potential longevity of such systems renders these localities prime targets for the future exploration of Martian biosignatures. Fluvial-lacustrine environments associated with basaltic volcanism are highly relevant to Mars, but their terrestrial counterparts have been largely overlooked as a field analogue. Such environments are common in Iceland, where basaltic volcanism interacts with glacial ice and surface snow to produce large volumes of meltwater within an otherwise cold and dry environment” Read more here. New community-based adaptation to drought in Peru “The livelihoods of people in the Andes are expected to be affected by climate change due to their dependence on glacier water. The observed decrease in glacier volume over the last few decades is likely to accelerate during the current century, which will affect water availability in the region. This paper presents an approach for participatory development of community-based adaptation measures to cope with the projected impacts of climate change. It combines in an innovative manner participatory design with physical measurements, modeling and a vulnerability analysis.” Read more here. Mineral dust and black carbon from wildfires melt Washington’s glaciers “Assessing the potential for black carbon (BC) and dust deposition to reduce albedo and accelerate glacier melt is of interest in Washington because snow and glacier melt are an important source of water resources, and glaciers are retreating. In August 2012 on Snow Dome, Mount Olympus, Washington, we measured snow surface spectral albedo and collected surface snow samples and a 7 m ice core. The snow and ice samples were analyzed for iron (Fe, used as a dust proxy) via inductively coupled plasma sector field mass spectrometry, total impurity content gravimetrically, BC using a single-particle soot photometer (SP2), and charcoal through microscopy……The Big Hump forest fire is the likely source for the higher concentrations” Read more here.   Spread the...

Read More

New Report Addresses Mountain Sustainability

Posted by on Apr 1, 2015 in Adaptation, All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics, Science | 0 comments

New Report Addresses Mountain Sustainability

Spread the News:ShareA major new report provides a thorough summary of research and an innovative discussion of development efforts in mountain regions. This report, titled ‘Mountains and Climate Change: A Global Concern,’ was published in December 2014 by the Mountain Partnership as part of the UN Sustainable Mountain Development Series. The Mountain Partnership is an international organization, dedicated to sustainable mountain development, which partners with the United Nations. The report was developed for the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP20), which was held in Lima, Peru, in December 2014. Integrating a variety of perspectives from researchers and practitioners, the report synthesizes and analyzes adaptation-mitigation strategies and relevant policy recommendations about climate change vulnerabilities in the mountain regions in order to understand problems and solutions. These together seek to define and understand both the problem space and the solution space for sustainable mountain development globally world-wide. Case studies on glaciers presented in the report cover the mountains of the Alps, the tropical Andes, the Himalayas, the Carpathians of Eastern Europe and Kyrgyzstan. One of these case studies reports on historical and current changes in the tropical Andes. It finds that smaller glaciers have been retreating relatively faster than larger glaciers. It includes projections for the 0°C mean annual isotherm (the altitude at which the average temperature is at the freezing point of water) so that glaciers may be maintained. This isotherm, also known as the freezing level, may move upslope by hundreds of meters by the year 2100, leading to increased melting and glacier retreat. The report suggests that precipitation patterns over the Andes are stable and will not raise water scarcity concerns, but rising temperatures at higher altitudes will increase evaporation and lead to water deficiencies. This short 2012 World Bank Video ‘‪Melting glaciers: The Slow Disaster in the Andes’ provides an overview of impacts of changing climate on Andean water The Carpathian region in Europe, discussed in a second case study, is home to a long mountain range with relatively fewer and smaller glaciers. These mountains are also facing impacts from climatic changes. At the Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Carpathian Convention (COP4) in 2014, strategies for adaptation to climate change in this region was adopted. Some of these recommendations include developing funding mechanisms including a plan for compensating mountain areas for the service and goods they provide, building  knowledge hubs and platforms for sharing information. Temperatures during the summer have shown an increase in the Carpathian region, contributing to melting, even though winter temperatures remained relatively unchanged. The report suggests that in the last 50 years, precipitation over this mountain region has overall been more intensified and displays a spatially varying “mosaic pattern” which has anomalous increase in few locations and decrease in others. These changes have been attributed to the effects of a pattern of increasing localization of storms. The report calls for further studies to describe processes that affect glacier retreat and to reduce the uncertainties in projections, and it places high priority on the regional capacity building and financial investment in the region. This report reasserts with higher confidence findings in earlier documents such as “Mountain glaciers are key indicators of climate change” and “Glacier changes are the most visible evidence of global climate change we have.” It underscores that retreating glaciers are modifying the regions’ hydro-climatology, and this change is in turn causing a cascade of hazards such as landslides, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), and rock falls. The report recommends sustaining mountain economies through integrated risk management and water management approaches incorporate participatory governance and decision making. It stresses...

Read More