Posts by Nick Smith

For One Time Only, the Perfect Glacier Wave

Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts | 0 comments

For One Time Only, the Perfect Glacier Wave

Spread the News:ShareA wall of ice from Childs Glacier in Alaska crumbles into the Copper River, gradually at first and then all at once. As a massive wave created by the calving glacier builds power, two tiny figures appear against the vast gray expanse of churning water, one on a surfboard and the other on a jet ski. This is glacier surfing and just watching it might give you the chills. Back in 2007, surfers Kealii Mamala and Garrett McNamara, a professional big wave rider who set a world record for surfing the largest wave ever, wanted to become the first people to surf a glacier. They made a video to show off their attempt. The video is hard not to watch. As the wave speeds towards the two men, it looks as though the water washes right over them. “Oh, is he in there? Is he going to come out?” says an unidentified videographer as he loses sight of the figure on the surfboard. The jetski circles back behind the wave. It’s a good 25 seconds before the little figures reappear, and the camera-man and spectators on the shore become the first to witness a human being surfing a wave created by the power of a glacier falling into the sea. If you were to list the dangers of surfing next to a collapsing sheet of ice, one of the top ones might be getting hit by any of the enormous chunks of jagged ice that are launched into the air when the glacier hits the water. “It’s like a bomb, and the giant pieces of ice fly like shrapnel,” McNamara said in “The Glacier Project,” a documentary about riding the ice wave. It turns out that Copper River at Child’s Glacier is an ideal location for surfing. When a piece of ice calves from the glacier, it displaces enough water to make a wave so large that it curls all the way across the width of the river in a single sweep. This means there are no competing “break points.” According to Surfline.com, a website devoted to identifying the best surfing spots using weather reports and scientific measurements, a wave where all the break points line up is a “perfect” wave, because then a surfer can ride the wave all the way from one end to the other. The seeds of the Glacier Project were first sown back in 1995, when filmmaker Ryan Casey worked on an IMAX film Alaska: Spirit of the Wild with his father George Casey, near Childs Glacier. During the filming, Casey saw bits of ice break off from the glacier and fall into the water below, creating the kind of giant uniform wave described above. Casey thought it would be perfect for surfing, if only surfers could get out there. The practice of jet ski towing, by which a surfer is towed into a breaking wave, was not common at the time, but it was 12 years later, when Casey, McNamara, and Mamala headed to Alaska to test Casey’s theory that these glacier waves could be surfed. “After the scout, I guaranteed that we would ride a wave – any wave,” McNamara said in an interview with surfingmagazine.com. But his enthusiasm evaporated pretty quickly. “After the first day, I just wanted to make it home alive. Not knowing where the glacier was going to fall, where the wave would emerge, or how big it would be. It was so different to anything we’ve experienced in our big-wave tow-surfing history. I spent most the time thinking about my family and wondering if I would survive to see them again. It was in a realm all its own.” McNamara and Mamala each rode glacier waves during the trip. The largest for...

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Visualizing Iceland’s volcanos

Posted by on Sep 30, 2014 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts | 0 comments

Visualizing Iceland’s volcanos

Spread the News:ShareThere are few sights in nature as impressive as a fiery volcanic eruption. GlacierHub has featured many photos and stories from Iceland’s recent volcanic eruptions, and another useful way of understanding some of the more intangible aspects of volcanoes is through data visualization. One of the hot spots (if you’ll excuse the pun) in Iceland is the Bárðarbunga volcano near the center of the country. Each day, the Icelandic Met Office updates the aviation warning color for all of Iceland’s volcanoes. Green means everything is normal, red means an eruption is immanent and air travel must be grounded. Bárðarbunga has been “forever orange” for weeks now, even as other eruptions have come and gone. The gif shows the daily warning progression of Bárðarbunga and you can see just how the volcano has been at “heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.” There are more concrete ways to visualize the eruption. We’ve posted a picture to our Twitter feed comparing the lava height to the Statue of Liberty. The University of Iceland overlayed a lava flow onto a map of the area. There are plenty of GPS data maps out there. Iceland Magazine helpfully related the lava flow to Manhattanites by showing it covers an area three times the size of Central Park. How about that? New #Holuhraun lava is now 3 times larger than NYC’s Central Park! http://t.co/lDzgBHdyrC pic.twitter.com/VzFX1klhsR — Iceland Magazine (@IcelandMag) September 3, 2014 Map overlays, size comparisons and seismic graphs are all well and good, but what if you’re a budding volcanologist? Elska is an Icelandic pop singer who makes music for children and families. In late August, she posted a cartoon drawing explaining the eruption to children, which included, among other things, anthropomorphized magma moving closer to the surface and a handy pronunciation of Bárðarbunga (hint: say baur-thar-boun-ga). Graphic with the earthquakes in the #Bardarbunga area #Iceland Something is moving under the #glacier pic.twitter.com/cVVODOIpyj — Roberto Lopez (@Bromotengger) September 9, 2014 We’ll post more graphical representations of the Iceland eruptions to our Twitter feed, @GlacierHub, as we find them. Another big #earthquake 5.1 magnitude under the #Bardarbunga area #Iceland pic.twitter.com/RgVgHnQCDH — Roberto Lopez (@Bromotengger) August 31, 2014 #Bardarbunga caldera has subsided by allmost a meter per day for the last three days http://t.co/A69qoiBZau pic.twitter.com/docspGuYaW — Univ. of Iceland (@uni_iceland) September 8, 2014 130 meter Iceland lava fountains , Statue of Liberty to scale. Calmer Nordic glaciers http://t.co/NQSpxNRIFE pic.twitter.com/615z3qajFy — GlacierHub (@GlacierHub) September 4, 2014 Spread the...

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Glacier stories you may have missed this week – 9/29

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014 in Adaptation, All Posts, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

Glacier stories you may have missed this week – 9/29

Spread the News:ShareNepal tourism adapts to climate change “Weather can ruin the vacation while climate can devastate a holiday destination. Climate change not only impacts on tourism directly by changes in temperature, extreme weather events and other climatic factors, but it will also transform the natural environment that attracts tourists. Despite the global nature of tourism industry and its economic contributions, scholars of climate change research have hardly acknowl- edged the threat of climate change to the tourism industry.” Read more about Nepal’s tourism industry’s efforts to deal with climate change in this study in the International Journal of Disciplinary Studies.   Pakistan needs more glacier data-sharing to mitigate disasters “‘Our elders used to say this glacier was very high, so high there was no one living here. This was a giant glacial lake,’ Sajjad Ali said. Standing on a cliffside, he pointed down at the Hopar Glacier, more than a 1,000 metres below, its surface covered by massive boulders it had swept out of its way as it carved a valley through the Karakoram mountains.” Read more about in Pakistan’s efforts to monitor glaciers in IRIN Asia.   Austrian and Swiss Alps look back at their history…way, way back “The landscapes in mountain regions are often strongly influenced by the steep climatic gradients and by past variations in climatic conditions. Therefore, the study of geological landscape features such as moraines, landslides and rock glaciers with appropriate geochronological approaches allows insights into past variations in climate.” Read the full study in the July 8, 2014 issue of Quaternary Science Reviews. Spread the...

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Glacier stories you may have missed – 9/22/14

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

Glacier stories you may have missed – 9/22/14

Spread the News:ShareTibetan glaciers have shrunk by 15 percent “The study attributes the retreat of glaciers and thawing of frozen earth to global warming, suggesting a significant impact on the water security of the subcontinent. Rivers such as the Brahmaputra have their source on the Tibetan plateau, where it flows as the Yarlung Zangbo before turning at “the great bend” and entering India.” Read the Hindu Times article here. Nepalese mountain communities fear melting glaciers and flooding “‘I lost my grandchild and daughter to a huge landslide,’ 80-year old Dorje Sherpa said in the remote Dingboche village, lying at an altitude of nearly 5,000m. Nearly 14 years ago, they were crushed by a huge landslide caused by flooding from a glacial lake in nearby Amadablam mountain.” Read the IRIN Asia story here. New book looks at vanishing glacier’s impact on America “As world temperatures soar, public outcry has focused on the threat to polar ice sheets and sea ice. Yet there is another impact of global warming—one much closer to home—that spells trouble for Americans: the extinction of alpine glaciers in the Rocky Mountains. The epicenter of the crisis is Glacier National Park, Montana, whose peaks once held one-hundred-and-fifty glaciers. Only twenty-five survive. The park provides a window into the future of climate impacts for mountain ranges around the globe.” Read an excerpt from Christopher White’s “The Melting World: A Journey Across America’s Melting Glaciers” here.   Spread the...

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Photo Friday: A Song of Ice and Fire

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: A Song of Ice and Fire

Spread the News:ShareWe’ve brought you plenty of posts and updates on the earthquakes and eruptions in Iceland over the past few weeks. The Iceland’s Institute of Earth Science recently published even more photos of researchers surveying Bárðarbunga from the air and from the ground from a variety of photographers. We’ve selected some of our favorites, but see the whole set here if you can’t get enough ice and fire. 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. Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 6.17.43 PM (photo:Þorbjörg Ágústsdóttir) Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 6.17.17 PM (photo:Þorbjörg Ágústsdóttir) Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 6.16.57 PM (photo: Johanne Schmith) Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 6.16.18 PM (photo: Ármann Höskuldsson) Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 6.15.38 PM (photo:Þorbjörg Ágústsdóttir) Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 6.14.48 PM (photo: Johanne Schmith) Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 6.03.59 PM (photo: Ármann Höskuldsson) Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 6.02.46 PM (credit: Tobias Dürig) Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 6.01.51 PM (photo: Benedikt Gunnar Ófeigsson) Spread the...

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