Posts by Syed Sayeed

Indigenous Art Promotes Resilience to Climate Change

Posted by on Jun 8, 2016 in Adaptation, All Posts, Art/Culture, Communities, Featured Posts | 0 comments

Indigenous Art Promotes Resilience to Climate Change

Spread the News:ShareIndigenous art can play a role in transmitting environmental knowledge between generations and across cultures, according to an article published recently in the journal Ecology and Society. Inuit people in northern Canada produce art that conveys their perceptions of environmental change to younger generations within their community and to the wider world Authors Kaitlyn Rathwell and Derek Armitage interviewed 30 professional artists in the towns of  Pangnirtung and Cape Dorset, both towns in Baffin Island in northern Canada where the decline of sea ice and changing seasons impact traditional hunting and food security. They selected the towns, both former trading posts for the Hudson Bay Company, for their “legacy of artmaking,” including textiles, carving, and printmaking. Cape Dorset is known as the “Capital of Inuit Art,” and carvers there use power tools on their work. The authors wrote, “While walking the streets, one hears the soundtrack of power tools omnipresent as carvers work constantly beside houses.” Local art cooperatives purchase the work and showcase it in national and international markets. Among professional artists, the artwork is an important source of livelihood. Newer generations of Innit are relying on art for income generation in areas where work opportunities are otherwise limited to commercial fishing and local social services.  International market demands, such as the unacceptability of seal skin canvases in European markets, have shifted the type of work that the Inuit produce. Rathwell and Armitage also undertook a series of activities that led to the creation of a mural. They opened with a planning process to learn local priorities and build local support. These led to a full-day workshop, in which Inuit youth and youth from southern Canada discussed old and new times and sketched vignettes, which the group then integrated into a sketch for a mural. At a later workshop, they presented the mural to a group of elders, who then had a storytelling session about sea ice. The youth made sketches during this session. These activities overlapped with more formal art-making at a print shop and a studio. Based on their interviews and observations of the workshops, the authors describe how knowledge is shared and recreated through art and art-making. The authors identify mechanisms by which art transmits and fosters knowledge. Firstly, artist embed messages and meanings in the objects they create. The artist Elisapee Ishulutaq stated, “When I was young the ice was not dangerous…now it’s getting dangerous and through art, artists can get [that message] out there.” Another mechanism was the sharing of knowledge through art, particularly across generations. The artist Toonoo Sharky said, “I learned by watching my grandfather and I took his place trying to imitate his carving at that time” The authors find that the art-making provides a context that bring together the environmental knowledge of the elders and the skills of artists of different generations. One artist, Eddie Perrier, described how one printmaker, Jolly, taught him specific techniques while another, Eena, provided environmental knowledge. He said, “Jolly showed me how to draw icebergs and the mountains [from] his perspective.… she [Eena] is a really talented artist and printmaker and she is the one who told me the stories about…the snow on the mountains and about how the glaciers are changing. Where Jolly was just showing me how to draw it, not the story behind it.” Another artist, Andrew Qappik, described recently making a “a large watercolor painting a couple weeks ago at the print shop. Painted the fjord where there use to be a lot of glaciers [and] now the glaciers are not there as much as they used to be. That...

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Ivory Gulls Made an Iceberg Their Home

Posted by on May 17, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Science | 0 comments

Ivory Gulls Made an Iceberg Their Home

Spread the News:ShareResearchers recently reported that a threatened species of Arctic seagull had made a colony in an unusual place— on an offshore iceberg. This is the first report of these gulls breeding on an iceberg. They reported in a short note published in the journal Polar Biology that ivory gulls, Pagophila eburnea, had formed a breeding colony of around 60 adults with numerous chicks and fledglings among them. The gulls, which are named for their all-white plumage, may have made their home there because it allows them to avoid predators (including the Arctic fox, wolf, and polar bear) and because it is close to an area of open water that is a rich source of food. The find represents a new place to look during counts of such birds. The iceberg was covered with gravel and debris, and after analysis, the researchers reported that the likely source was a glacier moraine in Greenland. The iceberg was located nearby the North East Water polynya in Northeast Greenland. (A polynya is an area of open water where sea ice would normally be found. These zones open up seasonally, and are rich in foods that the gulls and other predators can consume, including small fish and krill.) The distance from feeding zones to nesting areas can be up to 100 km each way, so having the iceberg near the feeding area saves energy for the parents. The colony was spotted serendipitously while the researchers were taking observations from the deck of the RV Polarstern on August 9, 2014. The scientists were looking for seabirds and marine mammals as part of a long-term study of the relationship between predator densities and environmental factors in the polar region. Ivory gulls typically breed on nunataks, which are areas of exposed rock from mountain ice and snow fields, or on remote coastal islands. It had been suspected that the gulls might breed on offshore ice islands. A few studies also document the birds breeding on gravel-covered sea ice, though these were near the shore. The iceberg that was home to the colony was 70 km offshore. The researchers state that they assumed the iceberg was grounded, rather than freefloating, based on the typical depth of East Greenland icebergs. The observation of these gulls is also interesting because they are a near-threatened species, according to the IUCN Red List. While the ivory gull was among the most frequently seen gull in the Arctic in the 1990s, it is not even among the top ten any more, according to the researchers. The estimated total number of individuals of this species in the Greenland sea has also fallen, according to observations by the authors. The global population of these gulls is now estimated at between 19,000 and 27,000, they noted. The number of gulls seen in this colony makes it an average sized colony for this species. The authors weren’t able to provide an estimate of the number of young gulls, because they blend into the gravel so well and because the authors weren’t able to observe all parts of the breeding site closely. The authors wrote, “Juveniles of different age (from chicks in downy plumage to fledglings) were observed, but not quantified because parts of the breeding site could not be sighted properly at close range and due to their excellent camouflage on the gravel.” The ivory gull does not venture far from the Arctic Ocean, according to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, and the iceberg was located in the Greenland Sea, which is nearby. Earlier this year, an ivory gull was spotted in Duluth, Minnesota which,...

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Roundup: Midges, Rotifers, and Iron-Eating Bacteria

Posted by on May 16, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup, Science | 0 comments

Roundup: Midges, Rotifers, and Iron-Eating Bacteria

Spread the News:ShareEach week, we highlight three stories from the forefront of glacier news.   Diversity of Midge Flies Near Italian Glaciers From Insect Conservation and Diversity: “A collection of approximately 100 000 chironomids (Diptera; Chironomidae) inhabiting glacial areas of the Southern Alps that were collected over a period of approximately four decades from 1977 to 2014 were analysed to evaluate the impact of environmental traits on the distribution of chironomid species. Although the list of species has not substantially changed over time, some rare species captured in the 1970s have not been collected in recent years, while other species have only been collected recently.” Read more here. Rotifers Colonize Maritime Glacier Ice From Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution: “Very few animal taxa are known to reside permanently in glacier ice/snow. Here we report the widespread colonization of Icelandic glaciers and ice fields by species of bdelloid Rotifera. Specimens were collected within the accumulation zones of Langjökull and Vatnajökull ice caps, among the largest European ice masses. Rotifers reached densities up to ∼100 individuals per liter-equivalent of glacier ice/snow, and were freeze-tolerant. ” Read more here.   Bacteria Turn Iron into Food Under Glaciers “Geochemical data indicate that protons released during pyrite (FeS2) oxidation are important drivers of mineral weathering in oxic and anoxic zones of many aquatic environments including those beneath glaciers. Subglacial meltwaters sampled from Robertson Glacier (RG), Canada over a seasonal melt cycle reveal concentrations of S2O32- that are typically below detection despite the presence of available pyrite and several orders of magnitude higher concentrations of the FeS2 oxidation product sulfate (SO42-). Here we report the physiological and genomic characterization of the chemolithoautotrophic facultative anaerobe Thiobacillus sp. RG5 isolated from the subglacial environment at RG. The RG5 genome encodes pathways for the complete oxidation of S2O32-, CO2 fixation, and aerobic and anaerobic respiration with nitrite or nitrate.” Read more here. Spread the...

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Activists Say Chilean Glacier Protection Law Falls Short

Posted by on May 5, 2016 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

Activists Say Chilean Glacier Protection Law Falls Short

Spread the News:ShareA recent incident shows the importance of a social movement in shaping a glacier protection law in Chile. Representatives from indigenous and environmental groups testified in April that the draft law— which designates glaciers as protected areas and limits activities that can damage them— has glaring loopholes that would leave  glaciers and the people who depend on them unprotected. They urged the Commision on Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples to review the proposed law. The group, the Coordination of Territories in Defense of Glaciers, is a coalition of organizations from northern and central regions in Chile with glaciers. According to an article posted by the Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts (OLCA), the group’s message was received positively by representatives on the commission, which is part of the lower house of the Chilean legislature. The article was signed by several groups advocating for glacier protection, including the Coordination of  Territories. It was posted by the indigenous media blog Mapu Express as well. According to the article, advocates for communities living alongside glaciers argued that these communities need to be able to secure their water rights in order to survive. Central and northern areas are the most dependent on glacial waters, and glaciers there would be left vulnerable by the law, advocates argue. They also point out that Chile is currently experiencing a prolonged water shortage. The draft law is currently under review within the Environment Ministry, and the group asked the Commission of Human and Indigenous Rights to review it. These advocates stated in an earlier post that industry interests have ensured that “Ningún glaciar quedará protegido”: Not one glacier would be protected. The groups are aligned against mining interests, including the state-owned copper company CODELCO and Consejo Minero, a mining industry group. Representatives on the committee acknowledged the role of mining interests in opposing glacier protection; Deputy Roberto Poblete, who sits on the committee, singled out Barrick Gold, a large mining company that operates in Chile, as an example of the forces at work against the law’s efficacy. Conflict between mining groups and local activists are taking place in other parts of the world as well, including Kyrgyzstan, as GlacierHub recently covered. The issue has also been picked up in American popular culture, on the TV show Madam Secretary. Chileans have been pressing their government to protect glaciers in law since 2014, when plans were announced to expand Chile’s largest mine, further impacting glaciers. Greenpeace started an advocacy campaign called “Glacier Republic” in which it jokingly claimed to declare Chile’s glaciers an independent country. Greenpeace’s efforts combined with those of a handful of Chilean politicians and grassroots activists. A march of two thousand people called for Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to protect the glaciers in law. Discussion of glacier protection in the law followed, and a group within Chile’s legislature advanced a bill to protect glaciers. GlacierHub reported in 2015 that though progress was made in bringing a law to the table, there was uncertainty in how far it would go to protect glaciers. The Chilean groups testified last month that the draft bill did not go far enough. In January, advocates detailed that the law’s impact would be severely limited. That’s because the law would require that a glacier be in a “Pristine Region,” a park or national reserve, or part of a declared Strategic Glacier Reserve to be protected. They wrote that there are several loopholes that could prevent glaciers that fall under these conditions from being protected. One of these loopholes is a legal provision that parkland can be opened to economic development if permission is granted...

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Photo Friday: Images from ‘Sherpa’

Posted by on Apr 29, 2016 in Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images, Tourism, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Images from ‘Sherpa’

Spread the News:SharePasang Sherpa, a member of the Sherpa community of Nepal, wrote a review of the new documentary Sherpa earlier this week for GlacierHub. She called it, “one of the best portrayals of the Sherpa story on the mountain I had seen.” Directed by Jennifer Peedom, the documentary tells the story of how the climbing industry has changed life for Sherpas, who attach spiritual significance to Everest and yet also rely on it for work. The film also covers a major accident that took place in 2014 in the Khumbu Icefall, in which 16 mountain expedition workers, a majority of them ethnic Sherpas, died.  Sherpa aired at several film festivals last year and recently was broadcast on Discovery. More information on the film, including “inside look” clips, can be found at the film’s website. Peedom shares her views on the relationship between the climbing industry and Sherpas, and the crew discusses challenges such as working at high altitude. The following photos from the film are courtesy of Discovery. Sherpa_1_Phurba Tashi discoverychannel jennifer_peedom_headshot sherpa6_discovery channel Sherpa5_russell brice_Phurba Tashi_discoverychannel Sherpa4_attending meeting at base camp_discoverychannel DCIM101GOPRO Spread the...

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