Posts by Weiye Zhang

Spiritual Significance of Glacier Melt in Mountain Cultures

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts | 1 comment

Spiritual Significance of Glacier Melt in Mountain Cultures

Spread the News:ShareGlacier retreat, as an easily observable consequence of climate change, also embodies spiritual significance to local communities.  In some cases, local perceptions of glacier melt differ from that of the scientific community. In a new paper, Elizabeth Allison of the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, looks at three instances of glacial decline in sacred mountain landscapes—in the Peruvian Andes, the Nepalese Himalayas, and the Meili Snow Mountains of Yunnan, China — and observes how different cosmologies provide different accounts of the rapidly melting ice. She found that the ways in which communities perceive glacier melt also affects the way these communities interact with their traditions and with glaciers themselves. Her work suggests the value of broadening the discussions of climate change in modern urban societies as well, by showing the depth of human engagement with the natural world–and, more broadly, by showing that people everywhere seek meaning from nature. The Peruvian Andes In the Peruvian Andes, the local residents, the Quechua, believe that the declining glacier is associated with the departure of the mountain god. In their worldview, the mountain gods bestow vitality on plants and animals and are thus  worshipped as a manifestation of Mother Earth. The local residents have long observed the recession of the mountain glaciers. They believe that their mountain gods have always had white ponchos, but some of their ponchos have brown stripes now. It is a mystery to the Quechua what they have done to irritate the mountain god who is limiting water flow. Concern for the declining glaciers has led to changes in local rituals and customs. Strict regulations have been in effect to prevent anyone from removing ice, and only small bottles of meltwater are allowed to be collected. Guards are also positioned at the edge of the glacier. Pilgrims who used to light candles while seeking answers for their concerns along the edge of the glaciers have started to use smaller candles to preserve the glacier. Furthermore, local prophecy predicted future calamity when the world will end after the glacier is gone. Local people believe when the glacier disappears, wind will blow everything away and a new epoch will thus begin. The Nepalese Himalayas In the Himalayas, it is believed that gods reside on mountaintops to distance themselves from the filth of human life. Sherpas, like the Quechua, sometimes link the decline of mountain glaciers to gods or deities. Some of them see it as a moral reprimand by the gods due to the departure from traditional lifestyle to new lifestyles that generate pollution. Some Sherpas invoke both scientific and religious interpretations to explain melting glaciers, including changing weather variability, weakening belief in gods and spirits, etc. In Tibetan Buddhist societies of Nepal, Ladakh, and Bhutan, activities that upset the boundaries between social groups or substances, including cooking or eating garlic and onions, burning meat, experiencing strong emotions, breaking vows, can be the source of physical or spiritual pollution. Local residents are trying to prevent the pollution of mountain peaks in fear of releasing the fury of mountain gods. Meili Snow Mountain Range The Mingyong Glacier below Mount Khawa Karpo in the Meili Snow Mountain Range in Northwest Yunnan, China, is one of the most rapidly receding glaciers in the world. From 2002 to 2004, the Mingyong Glacier retreated around 110 meters, and a total of 2.3 kilometers from 1870 to 2004, according to local stories. A local Buddhist monk suggested that the glacier retreat resulted from insufficient devotion on the part of Buddhists, because outside visitors failed to demonstrate highly reverent behavior around the holy mountain. Others blame the use of...

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Roundup: Tien Shan, Breweries, and Glacier Plants

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup, Science, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Roundup: Tien Shan, Breweries, and Glacier Plants

Spread the News:ShareGlacier Loss in Tien Shan Populations in Central Asia are heavily dependent on snow and glacier melt for their water supplies. Changes to the glaciers in the main mountain range in this region, the Tien Shan, have been reported over the past decade. However, reconstructions over longer, multi-decadal timescales and the mechanisms underlying these variations—both required for reliable future projections—are not well constrained. Check out the rest of the article here.   Breweries Support Glacier Research A British Columbia scientist is hoping to use a few cold ones to get the public thinking about really big cold ones – glaciers. Brian Menounos, a glaciologist with the University of Northern British Columbia, has teamed up with Kokanee beer for a project that will result in a better understanding of what’s happening to western glaciers as well as a special batch of suds. Read more about the story here. Glacier Plants and Insects There is a growing interest in understanding the relationship between the structure and dynamics of ecological networks. Ecological network changes along primary successions are poorly known: to address such topic, gradient of primary succession on glacier forelands is an ideal model, as sites of different age since deglaciation stand for different ecosystem developmental stages. Check out the article here. Spread the...

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Melting Glaciers Inspire Artists

Posted by on Aug 19, 2015 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Communities, Experiences, Featured Posts, Images, News, Tourism, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Melting Glaciers Inspire Artists

Spread the News:ShareArtists have witnessed, documented, and represented glaciers with performances, photographs, movies, and various forms of art. Recently, the glaciers have come to embody multitudes of social connotations, including as indicators of the most tangible manifestation of anthropogenic climate change, according to M Jackson at Department of Geography, University of Oregon, in her paper Glacier and Climate Change: Narratives of Ruined Futures. People make sense of the world through narratives, she wrote. The artistic works produced and shared about glaciers and glacier retreat reveal how people structure their thoughts about glaciers and how they interpret a world with glaciers. Jackson, therefore, presented five examples to illuminate and demonstrate the glacier-ruins narrative: the work of well-known American landscape painter Diane Burko, conceptual artist Kitty Von-Sometime’s 2014 performance Opus, ice installations by Olafur Eliasson and Minik Rosing, the documentary film Chasing Ice, and the National Park Service’s Exit Glacier display within south-central Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park.   Ice Installations In October 2014, Danish artists, Olafur Eliasson and Minik Rosing, placed 100 tonnes of glacier ice in the central city square of Copenhagen. After several days, the ice melted naturally. The artists intended to implicitly express that the parent glaciers in Greenland were also retreating due to climate change. However, the work of art did not have the intended impact on its audience. To many people, the melting ice was a perfectly normal occurrence placed in an urban setting, associated with basic physical science. The climate change context was somehow normalized, or even neglected by transporting melting glacier ice to urban Copenhagen.   Glacier Art Diane Burko is a well-known American landscape painter. She has been engaging glaciers in her photographs and paintings that correspond with the mixture of science and art in her own work. Burko’s oil painting Columbia Glacier Lines of Recession 1980–2005 is a classic example. The Columbia Glacier itself is painted vertically from the top to the bottom of the canvas. Scientific recession lines are painted horizontally, in bright primary colors, across the glacier. The glacier, in fact, is no longer existent, but it comes alive in Burko’s interpretation. The ruin of glaciers is highlighted in many of her works.   Glacier Film Kitty Von-Sometime, a conceptual artist, utilized ruined glaciers to backdrop her most recent film, Opus. The film was shot on Langjökull, an Icelandic glacier. The opening of the short film is striking, with the artist striding across the glacier in a frozen glacial-blue dress composed of thousands of pleats, and a choker wrapped around her throat. The film is loaded with powerful symbolism, and the glacier, as the background of the film, is supposed to convey a metaphor for loss.   Glacier Documentary The documentary film Chasing Ice records American photographer James Balog’s project to photograph widespread climatic changes across the planet. In the documentary, Balog embarks on a tour of the vast glacier landscapes, including some of the world’s largest ice systems. Many of the ice landscapes have not even been extensively photographed before. “We feel like we have an obligation to preserve the memory of these landscapes for people of the future, who will be looking at landscapes that will be profoundly different than what we’re seeing here today in 2012”, said Balog in an interview to promote the film.   The Exit Glacier Display The Exit Glacier is the most easily accessible glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska. Visitors to the Exit Glacier can physically experience the disappearance of ice by tracing the route of glacier recession. During the summer months, buses, shuttles, and cars keep the short park road very...

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Photo Friday: Argentine Glaciers from the Eye of Astronauts

Posted by on Aug 14, 2015 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Argentine Glaciers from the Eye of Astronauts

Spread the News:ShareOn both sides of the Andes, glaciers form the Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest area of land ice in the world, after Antartica and Greenland. The tremendous ice sheet extends from Chile to Argentina, home to over 300 glaciers. Some of its glaciers are located within the Glacier National Park (Parque Nacional Los Glaciares), a world heritage site acknowledged by UNESCO. The glaciers Perito Moreno, Mayo, Spegazzini, Upsala, Agassiz, Onelli, Ameghino are the major glaciers in the Park, and Glacier Upsala is the largest glacier in South America. The pictures of these Argentinian glaciers were retrieved from Glacier Photograph Collection provided by National Snow & Ice Data Center. This specific collection called Astronaut Glacier Photographs presents pictures taken by astronauts on the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Endeavor. They may provide you with a fresh and unique view of Argentine glaciers. Upsala Glacier Upsala Glacier Perito Moreno Glacier Mayo Glacier Ameghino Glacier Ameghino Glacier Agassiz Glacier Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Alaska Glaciers in Old Pictures

Posted by on Jul 31, 2015 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Communities, Featured Posts, Images, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Alaska Glaciers in Old Pictures

Spread the News:ShareThis week’s Photo Friday features a special treasure: the historic pictures of Alaska glaciers. The images were selected from the special collection of Alaskan glacier surveys led by William O. Field during International Geophysical Year (IGY), 1957-1958. These photos include Alaska glaciers like Columbia Glacier, Worthington Glacier, Grand Pacific Glacier, Northland Glacier, Lawrence Glacier, Ripon Glacier, and Yale Glacier, which are only a small part of the enormous collection. These photos represent an attempt to systematically study glacier change in Alaska. The photos can be accessed via National Snow and Ice Data Center. Yale Glacier Worthington Glacier Northland Glacier Ripon Glacier Lawrence Glacier Grand Pacific Glacier Columbia Glacier   Spread the...

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