Posts by Sophia Hill

Roundup: Studying and Dancing to Melting Glaciers

Posted by on Aug 1, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Studying and Dancing to Melting Glaciers

Spread the News:ShareDancing to the tune of a melting glacier: CoMotion tackles climate change From Missoulian:    “If someone suggested you watch artists perform an hour-long dance about climate change, you might shoot them your best ‘have-you-lost-your-mind’ look. But your curiosity level might be raised, too. When Karen Kaufmann’s phone rang in February 2015 and the caller asked her about putting together just such a production, her reaction, although certainly not the same, at least followed a similar arc. ‘I grappled with it,’ says Kaufmann, artistic director at the University of Montana’s CoMotion Dance Project. ‘The topic overwhelmed me. It was not immediately intuitive how one would go about choreographing climate change.'” Read more about CoMotion’s production of “Changing Balance/Balancing Change” here. Visitors To A Shrinking Alaskan Glacier Get A Lesson On Climate Change From NPR:  “John Neary, director of the visitor center for [Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska], wants the more than 500,000 people who visit the Mendenhall Glacier each year to know that it’s rapidly retreating due to climate change. ‘It became our central topic really just in the last few years,’ Neary says.” Read about Neary’s programming efforts to teach visitors about the effects of climate change here.   The Tiny World of Glacier Microbes Has an Outsized Impact on Global Climate From Smithsonian:  “The ability to tinker with our planet’s climate isn’t isolated to Arctic puddles. Microbes within these small pools, and nestled in lakebed sediments buried miles beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, could harbor the ability to seriously alter the global carbon cycle, as well as the climate. And researchers have only recently begun to navigate these minuscule worlds[….] Scientists once thought these holes were devoid of life. But researchers are now finding that they actually contain complex ecosystems of microbes like bacteria, algae and viruses.” Read more about a researcher’s three-week efforts to monitor the ability of puddles and the life contained in them to manipulate Earth’s climate here. Spread the...

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As Glaciers Melt, Tourists Keep on Coming to New Zealand

Posted by on Jul 26, 2016 in Adaptation, All Posts, Featured Posts, Tourism | 0 comments

As Glaciers Melt, Tourists Keep on Coming to New Zealand

Spread the News:ShareWhile more people are visiting iconic New Zealand glaciers because of concerns that climate change might wipe out the ice masses altogether, visitors are reportedly underwhelmed by the melting, gray glaciers.  This finding is documented in a new multidisciplinary study, “Implications of climate change for glacier tourism,” released last month in Tourism Geographies. The findings were published by Emma J. Stewart and researchers at Lincoln University, in Canterbury, New Zealand, in conjunction with others from neighboring and international universities. The study examines the impacts of climate change on the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers in New Zealand’s South Island, and how these effects have trickled down to local tourism. The tourism industry there collectively attracted over 500,000 international visitors in 2015. These glaciers, located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, are just two of New Zealand’s more than 3,100 glaciers, but they are the country’s most beloved and visited, and have received a flow of tourists dating back to the early 1900s. Their distinctive morphology creates glacier tongues that flow down from the high mountains to low, visitor-accessible elevations. However, studies show that glacier recession has accelerated at an unprecedented rate in New Zealand. Previous studies estimate that Fox Glacier lost over 700 meters in length between 2008 and 2015, and that neighboring Franz Josef Glacier experienced a similar rate of reduction. Recent modeling estimates that Franz Josef Glacier will shed 62 percent of its current volume by 2100. In order to explore perceptions of change with regard to glaciers and tourism, the researchers conducted 13 stakeholder interviews with employees from the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) and commercial tourism businesses at the two glaciers. They also administered questionnaires to 500 English-speaking visitors who were returning from guided walks to view Fox or Franz Josef Glacier. Researchers asked visitors about their reasons for journeying to the sites and their overall satisfaction with their glacier visit. Stakeholders showed widespread agreement that the region’s glacier tourism industry was largely inspired by visitor perceptions of the glaciers as a “bucket list” item or as a “last chance” tourism trip. The notion of “last chance” glacial tourism encapsulates visitors’ desires to observe, photograph, or interact with threatened or rare physical features and natural landmarks. The study suggests that New Zealand’s high levels of glacier tourism are largely due to visitors’ desire to visit these iconic natural landmarks before they disappear. The study also reveals that stakeholders and tourists alike perceive the glaciers as highly significant to the region and to New Zealand. “The glaciers are first and foremost the reason why people stop at Franz and Fox,” a DOC employee stressed.  A Franz Josef tourism manager echoed these sentiments, telling his interviewers, “If the glaciers were not here, these towns would not be either.” “[The glaciers] are hugely significant to New Zealand – culturally, naturally and economically. They are icon destinations on the South Island,” one of the study’s two lead researchers, Emma Stewart of Lincoln University, told GlacierHub in an email. Yet while stakeholders are in widespread agreement of the glaciers’ importance to the region, and the time-sensitive nature of the possibilities of visiting them, the study’s interviews reveal that visitors are also expressing less wonder at the sight of the once majestic glaciers. In the survey, one DOC ranger said, “I would feel much better if the glaciers were coming forward, they always look better, whereas now it’s just a dirty old strip of ice up around the corner.” The study noted that “significant segments of the visitor population” found that their expectation of the size and condition of the glaciers “exceeded the reality.” On average,...

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Nature Meets Technology with Artist Dan Holdsworth

Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images, Interviews | 0 comments

Nature Meets Technology with Artist Dan Holdsworth

Spread the News:ShareFor the last fifteen years, British photographer Dan Holdsworth has been blending nature, science, and technology into large-scale photographs and digital art. Much of his work focuses on glacial landscapes. Holdsworth’s major solo exhibition, “Dan Holdsworth: A Future Archaeology,” is currently premiering at the Scheublein + Bak Gallery in Zurich as part of his Continuous Topography series through September 2. Using high-end 3D imaging software ordinarily only used in scientific or military capacities, Holdsworth renders glacial landscapes in the Alps with extraordinary, unprecedented 3D precision.   Holdsworth spoke with GlacierHub about his early childhood influences, “the sublime,” and his efforts to capture Icelandic glaciers.   GlacierHub: What fieldwork did you conduct to create the images featured in this exhibit? Dan Holdsworth: For the last three years, I’ve been working with a PhD researcher named Mark Allen from Northumbria University in Newcastle [in the United Kingdom]. The first fieldwork we undertook together, three years ago now, was in the Mont Blanc massif, working on glaciers around Mont Blanc, on both the French and Italian sides. I spent initially two months there, surveying both terrestrially, with drones and by a helicopter using GPS recordings on the ground and data sampling, [and using] a huge sampling of photography surveying–usually several hundred photographs for each location.   GH: What drew you to glaciers as a subject? DH: My interest in landscape and interest in technology and human impacts on our environment. I’ve always been drawn to areas that have a tension, an edge. In my very early work, it was focused on city edges, where you see this view of humanity and nature kind of hitting each other. For me, obviously glacial landscapes have a similar aspect in terms of this edge of the human traction on glaciers. The images of glaciers are transmitted all around the globe as a symbol of climate change. In 2000, I went to Iceland for the first time, and I visited glacial landscapes in Iceland. In 2001, I started photographing a glacier called Solheimajökull, which was predominately, at that time, black, with volcanic debris melting out from the glacier. It appeared to have a very interesting tension with the industrial. This object is a byproduct of the Industrial Revolution. I went back every year for almost ten years and photographed the same location, not to document it exactly that precisely, but to more explore my relationship with it and my responses as it was changing and melting. I then subsequently made prints, which I made digital inversions of. When I made the photographs, I would always make them on a completely white-out day, and you’d see this black object in this white space.  In the final work, I made this circular realization by inverting the photograph and restoring the glacier to white. The sky becomes the black of space, so you have this immediate planetary transformation in the image.   GH: Your art blends technology with nature and science very seamlessly. What inspired this connection in your work? DH: My father was a physicist who studied in Bristol and then at the Max Planck Institute. He was a polymer physicist, and developed processes to metalize plastics. One of the companies he worked with was based in the States and he was developing coatings for space shuttles. So there were always these interesting sides of technology that I was being brought up with. Often you’d see these kinds of developments of technology, like a ghost of my dad’s work [like] some kind of metalized plastic in some food packaging, and back in the 1980s, you’d think, ‘There’s no...

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Photo Friday: Eruption at a Glacier Volcano in Russia

Posted by on Jul 8, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, News | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Eruption at a Glacier Volcano in Russia

Spread the News:ShareKlyuchevskoy, a glacier-covered volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia, is erupting. The volcano, 4,750 meters in elevation, has had a history of extensive activity over the last 7,000 years. It has been emitting gas, ash and lava since April 3. Several organizations are closely monitoring its eruption. They note that ash explosions reaching 6 to 8 kilometers in height could occur at any time, affecting flights from Asia to Europe and  North America. Local impacts could also be extensive. Lava flows at the new E flank crater on Klyuchevskoy #volcano -posted today https://t.co/NimjhFeDJZ pic.twitter.com/Znwz3alFjn — Janine Krippner (@janinekrippner) July 8, 2016 KVERT, the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team, posted an update about Klyuchevskoy’s eruption today:  “Explosive-effusive eruption of the volcano continues: there are bursts of volcanic bombs to 200-300 m above the summit crater and up to 50 m above the cinder cone into Apakhonchich chute, and strong gas-steam activity of two volcanic centers with emission of different amounts of ash, the effusing of lava flows along Apakhonchich chute at the south-eastern flank of the volcano. According to the video data, an intensification of the eruption was noted on 06 July: strong explosions sent ash up to 7.5 km a.s.l. According to satellite data by KVERT, a large bright thermal anomaly in the area of the volcano was observed all week, ash plumes drifted for about 350 km to the southwest, south and southeast from the volcano on 02-05 July; and dense ash plumes drifted for about 400 km to the southeast and east from the volcano on 06-07 July.” Enjoy these striking photos of Klyuchevskoy’s eruption and glaciated peaks below. volcano 2 Klyuchevskoy's usually snowy and glaciated peaks, with a plume rising over 6,000 meters. Photo taken on June 7th, 2016. Photo:<a href=" http://www.earth-of-fire.com/2016/07/eruptions-at-popcatepetl-poas-klyuchevskoy-and-pu-o-o.html"> Andrew Matseevsk for Earth of Fire</a>) @volcanohotspot: "New crater in E slope of Klyuchvskoy ⌀ 500m w/ strong lava flow 2km, summit also active" @volcanohotspot: "New crater in E slope of Klyuchvskoy ⌀ 500m w/ strong lava flow 2km, summit also active" volcano 3 Explosive-effusive eruption of the volcano continues. Photo:<a href=" https://lechaudrondevulcain.com/blog/2016/07/02/july-02-2016-en-pavlof-santiaguito-ticsani-klyuchevskoy/"> Volkstat ru / I. Buchanan</a>) Spread the...

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Ancient Ecological Calendars Find Way Forward in Pamir Mts.

Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 in Adaptation, All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

Ancient Ecological Calendars Find Way Forward in Pamir Mts.

Spread the News:ShareThe recent influx of climate change induced-changes, including warmer temperatures and melting glaciers, have wreaked havoc on the reliability of timekeeping systems of communities living in the Pamir Mountains in Central Asia. For centuries, the indigenous Pamiri people in Kyrgyzstan, China, Afghanistan and Tajikistan have used ecological calendars to coordinate seasonal activities. The traditional form of tracking time allows them to track seasonal and environmental changes. As environmental shifts, like migratory changes, render these ancient calendar systems unable to accurately keep time, local timekeepers are increasingly unable to rely on calendar cues for agricultural and cultural activities. The Kassam Research Group at Cornell University, along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Climate CoLab and the Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) program of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), is partnering with six communities, including the Pamiri, to collaboratively find ways to reconcile and calibrate this traditional timekeeping method with today’s changing climate. The three-year project, which received $1.35 million in funding from the Belmont Forum, began in December of 2015. The ecological calendars at the center of the project link environmental cues, such as the arrival of a particular migratory bird, the last day of snow cover, the breaking of ice on a river, or the first appearance of a particular insect, with corresponding mnemonic body parts, much as many Americans and Europeans count to ten on their fingers, to keep time. Beginning with their toenail, timekeepers track the progression of the seasons by counting correlating body parts up to their head, the arrival of which signals the end of spring. With the first cue of the arrival of summer, counting resumes again. This time, timekeepers count environmental cues down their body. Principal investigator Karim-Aly S. Kassam, a professor of environmental and indigenous studies at Cornell, told GlacierHub in a phone interview that the project is working to restore communities’ capacities to anticipate seasonal changes. “The ability to anticipate time is a very simple concept. It’s done to establish stability, to create anticipatory stability,” Kassam said. By tracking seasonal developments, Kassam says that ecological timekeeping systems lend communities the ability to anticipate agricultural activities and cultural practices. But climate change-induced disruptions of seasonal markers that help the Pamiri communities maintain their routines has made them uneasy, Kassam says. “The pace at which [climate change] is moving and its intensity is creating instability and anxiety,” he explained. Perched between 2,000 and 3,500 meters in elevation, local communities in the Pamir mountains are especially vulnerable to temperature changes, glacial melt, and subsequent water source depletion. Pamiri locals have reported increasing water levels in nearby rivers and lakes, a result of the quickened pace of glacial melt, said Kassam. Changes in temperature and precipitation have forced farmers to replace no longer thriving plants and fruits with alternative crops that are better suited to their changing environment. The project is currently developing a mechanism to retune these ancient calendar systems so that they work with ongoing ecosystem changes. Since its start last December, the project has begun mapping out communities’ seasonal cycles by inviting locals to identify their personal ecological indicators of changes in time. “We invite ornithologists, duck hunters, maple producers, anybody in the local community that can help us map out these discrete processes,” Kassam said. The project’s collaborators plan to hold a day-long discussion with each of the project’s partnering communities, in which project collaborators ask the community questions and later determine what their team can contribute using its scientific and technical backgrounds. Kassam expects the project to result in climate adaptation models for each partnering community. “Our climate models and...

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