Posts by Xuefei Miao

Roundup: Climbers, Pamirs and a Workshop

Posted by on May 2, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Climbers, Pamirs and a Workshop

Spread the News:ShareEach week, we highlight three stories from the forefront of glacier news. Bolivia’s Cholita Climbers From REUTERS, the wider image: “two years ago, Lydia Huayllas and 10 other Aymara indigenous women, ages 42 to 50, who also worked as porters and cooks for mountaineers, put on crampons – spikes fixed to a boot for climbing – under their wide traditional skirts and started to do their own climbing. These women have now scaled five peaks – Acotango, Parinacota, Pomarapi and Huayna Potosi as well as Illimani, the highest of all – in Bolivia’s Cordillera Real range. All are higher than 19,500 feet (6,000 meters) above sea level.” Read more here. Villages Must Recalibrate Time to Survive in the Pamir Mountains From EOS Earth and Space Science News: “Scientists plan projects this year to help a rugged, troubled region of central Asia retune traditional timekeeping methods based on environmental cues in the face of climate change. The calendar has stopped working for the people of the Pamir—the stunning, stark mountain range straddling the modern-day borders of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. A shifting climate is disrupting not only their subsistence farming and herding but also their unique way of tracking time. Whereas the Gregorian calendar marks a year by 365 days spread across 12 months, Pamiri calendars are driven by observed cues in the environment spread across a calendar of the human body.”  Read more here. Knowledge Sharing for Disaster Risk Reduction: Insights from a Glacier Lake Workshop in the Ladakh Region, Indian Himalayas From BioOne: “Small glacier lakes are distributed in the Ladakh Range in northwestern India. This area has experienced several glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs) since the 1970s, damaging settlements along streams. To reduce GLOF risk through a knowledge-based approach focused on nonstructural measures, we held a workshop in May 2012 for residents of Domkhar Village in the northwestern part of the Ladakh Range. More than 100 villagers participated in the workshop, which conveyed useful disaster information to participants while enabling the researchers to understand local knowledge and beliefs about floods. ” Read more here. Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Katie Craney’s Artwork from Alaska

Posted by on Apr 15, 2016 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images | 2 comments

Photo Friday: Katie Craney’s Artwork from Alaska

Spread the News:ShareThe artist Katie Craney has been fascinated with the role of plankton in our everyday lives. People in southeast Alaska, where she lives, and people around the world rely on it for oxygen, for marine food supply, and for livelihoods. In her home region in Alaska, she learned of the close connections that link plankton with ice melt, glacier runoff, and salmon; all that define life in Southeast Alaska. She recently wrote The Air We Breathe for Artists and Climate Change. Her art is a response to the imminent transformation and vulnerability of the north. Within any given fragment of land or water there are ethereal processes at work that support the northern world she calls home. Human-caused climate change is rapidly altering the structure of these northern ecological communities to which people have adapted and on which they rely for survival. The images below all show new work that she created for a recent solo show, Melt: A Commentary on Alaska’s Warming Winters at Skipping Stone Studio in Haines, Alaska. These are small, intimate pieces, just a few inches across, inviting close inspection. They draw on a variety of everyday materials: paper, gauze, wax and aluminum leaf, attached to metal or wood. You can see more of her work on her website Deciphering Change. Craney_BedrockSeries Craney_CoastLine Craney_AblationSeries1 Craney_AblationSeries For more information and images, please visit her website. Spread the...

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ICIMOD Conference Focuses on Climate Change in Himalayas

Posted by on Apr 7, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

ICIMOD Conference Focuses on Climate Change in Himalayas

Spread the News:ShareThe International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) held a conference, “Climate and Environmental Change Impacts in Indus Basin Waters,”in Kathmandu in February. At this conference, scientists shared the common idea that a lack of data on the Himalayas is impeding their knowledge of the region and how climate change might affect it— and how that, in turn, could affect the region’s many millions of people. Over 80 people attended the conference, which was also supported by  the World Bank, and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).  It was focused on improving understanding of research on climate change’s effects in the Indus basin. The importance of this basin was underscored by Dr Eklabya Sharma, Director, Programme Operations at ICIMOD, who told the conference, “The Indus River supports a population of about 215 million inhabitants of Afghanistan, China, India and Pakistan whose livelihoods are directly or indirectly dependent on it.” He indicated that cooperation among these nation was a necessary step for the development of research to understand climate change impacts in this basin. The conference’s opening speech was delivered by Hafeez-ur-Rehman, the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan,  a large autonomous region in northern Pakistan . “The seasonal shift in snowfall to late spring and the subsequent heat waves lasting two to three days have caused rapid melting of snow — preventing glacier formation — flash floods, early avalanches, and loss of life and property,” Rehman said, according to a statement. James Clarke, the director of Communications and Marketing of IWMI, followed with a speech to welcome journalists from all four Indus basin countries, signaling the importance of the media and of outreach to civil society.  "Water is shrinking to a level of being unsustainable" says Dr. Arif Anwar @IWMI_ #Indus Basin #media dialogue pic.twitter.com/Ccvnfx6Odc — Farah Ahmed (@farahamds) February 20, 2016 According to Tobias Bolch, a glaciologist from the University of Zurich, over 80 percent of glaciers in the Himalayas haven’t been researched. “The bulk of the glaciers in Himalayas are yet to be studied in detail,” Bolch said, according to a report on SciDev.net. There are still many problems with scientific assessments and appropriate policy action because of significant uncertainties on Himalayan glacier changes. Scientific studies and data are currently inadequate for analysis of the status and trends of glaciers in the Himalayas. This in turn impedes the development of future predictions about the region, and obstructs effective action to adapt to anticipated changes there. The conference took some concrete steps to address this need for regional coordination of research.  It suggested the importance of strengthening the Upper Indus Basin Network, a group which promotes coordination among organizations in the region and the involvement of policy holders and other stakeholders in defining research programs. This Upper Indus Basin Network includes ICIMOD as well as other organizations, including Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), the Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), the branch of the World Wildlife Fund in Gilgit Baltistan, and FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, which is part of the Aga Khan Development Network. These organizations have already collaborated on other issues, including water resources and biodiversity protection. They have issued policy briefs which discuss concrete forms of management and governance for more effective water use under conditions of climate change. The conference lent provided strong support to this network at a critical moment, when collaboration is an urgent  need. As Shakil Romshoo, of Kashmir University, told SciDev.Net, a lack of data and modeling impede studying glaciers and climate change. “Such constraints do not allow us to make scientific estimates as to how the future climate change will affect the water resources of Indus basin,” he said. The conference may well help the different parties in the region work together to...

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Roundup: Fewer Hikers, Less Pollen, More Algae on Glaciers

Posted by on Mar 21, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Fewer Hikers, Less Pollen, More Algae on Glaciers

Spread the News:ShareEach week, we highlight three stories from the forefront of glacier news. New Zealand Glaciers Banned Hiking From Mashable.com: “New Zealand is renowned for its wondrous scenery, and among the country’s top tourist attractions are two glaciers that are both stunning and unusual because they snake down from the mountains to a temperate rain forest, making them easy for people to walk up to and view. The hot weather has even created a new type of tourist attraction over the other side of the mountains. Purdie said the glaciers there are also rapidly retreating, resulting in tourists taking boat rides on the lakes to see some of the massive icebergs that have begun to shear away.” Read more about this policy here. Microalgal Community Structures in Cryoconite Holes upon High-Arctic Glaciers of Svalbard From Biogeosciences: “Glaciers are known to harbor surprisingly complex ecosystems. On their surface, distinct cylindrical holes filled with meltwater and sediments are considered hot spots for microbial life. The present paper addresses possible biological interactions within the community of prokaryotic cyanobacteria and eukaryotic microalgae (microalgae) and relations to their potential grazers, such as tardigrades and rotifers, additional to their environmental controls. Svalbard glaciers with substantial allochthonous input of material from local sources reveal high microalgal densities. Selective wind transport of Oscillatoriales via soil and dust particles is proposed to explain their dominance in cryoconites further away from the glacier margins. We propose that, for the studied glaciers, nutrient levels related to recycling of limiting nutrients are the main factor driving variation in the community structure of microalgae and grazers.” Read more about microalgal community structures here. Pollen Limitation in Nival Plants of European Central Alps From American Journal of Botany: ” A plant is considered to be pollen-limited when—due to an insufficient supply with pollen of adequate quality—the seed output remains below the potential value. Pollen limitation is thought to be a general phenomenon under the harsh climatic conditions at high latitudes and elevations. Our study in the alpine–nival ecotone revealed that insect activity is not a limiting factor for pollination success in the studied plant species, which can be explained by the fact that anthesis functions and pollinator activity are largely coupled. ” Learn more about pollen limitation here. Spread the...

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Why Is a Region in China Banning Glacier Tourism?

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Interviews, Policy and Economics, Tourism | 0 comments

Why Is a Region in China Banning Glacier Tourism?

Spread the News:ShareIn order to protect the glaciers, tourists in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region will only be allowed to enjoy the sight of them from a distance, instead of walking on them, according to a proposed new regulation in China’s latest Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). Glaciers are “solid reservoirs” in dry regions such as Xinjiang, and thus an important water source. The accelerated destruction of the glaciers, affected by global warming, have led to water shortages in some areas of the country. There are over 46,000 glaciers in China, with more than 18,000 located in Xinjiang, which accounts for about 43 percent of the national ice reserves by area. The Tian Shan Mountains is the “watertower of Central Asia,” with the most important, and the biggest, being the Urumqi Riverhead Glacier No. 1. The temperature of Xinjiang, which is in China’s northwest, increased by 0.06 degrees Celsius per decade over the past 50 years, a rate which is much higher than the global average.The meltwater from the glacier has reduced after years of the glacier receding. Chen Xi from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said that small glaciers at low altitudes are more sensitive to climate change. “Glaciers in the Tianshan Mountains have receded by 15 to 30 percent in the last three decades,” Chen said, according to China Daily. “And they will continue to retreat by 60 percent in the next 20 years, and by 80 to 90 percent half a century from today.” In recent years, glacier tourism in Xinjiang attracted large number of tourists, but the revenue has been relatively low, at less than one billion yuan ($152 million). Li Jidong, party secretary of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Tourism Bureau, said according to ts news, “Glacier tourism brought in revenue of less than one billion yuan ($152 million) over the past dozen years, but the collapse of glaciers and loss from shrinking glaciers is incalculable.” Up-close glacier travel will be banned in Xinjiang, according to the new policy. Xinjiang has called for other countries and regions along the Tianshan Mountains to stop glacier tourism as well according to Chinanews. However, Kang Shichang, director of State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (CAREERI), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Lanzhou, China, said a total ban on glacier travel is not supported by scientific reasoning. There are hundreds of thousands of glaciers in the world, and few glaciers carry travelers, but overall glaciers are still in a state of retreat. In other words, glacier retreat is still happening, even though most of them are inaccessible to people. Therefore, the main cause of glacial retreat is not tourism. “In the future I hope glacier travel managers attach more emphasis on the popularity of glaciers literacy and arouse awareness of environmental protection and emission reduction based on current situations,” Kang said in an email to GlacierHub. Global warming is mainly responsible for glacier erosion. “Global glaciers are in an accelerated retreat trend nowadays, mainly due to global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions,” Kang said. He has his own ideal model for glacier tourism: observe glaciers from a reasonable distance. Kang noted that human activities, such as hiking and skiing in glacial areas, are not the main reason for retreat. At the same time, he worried about other human activities, such as the large number of construction, mining and other industrial activities, disorderly foot traffic on the glacier surface, and garbage. “The impact of these behaviors on glaciers is more severe by changing the surface albedo of glaciers, so lead to glacier...

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