Posts by Xuefei Miao

Photo Friday: Mount Hood Glaciers

Posted by on Mar 4, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, Tourism | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Mount Hood Glaciers

Spread the News:ShareAt 11,250 feet, Mount Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon, and a volcano that could erupt at some point, even if it likely wouldn’t be an explosive one. It’s also host to a dozen glaciers, which have even formed glacial caves. Climate change is having an effect, as the northwest glaciers are melting away. With the amazing view from Mt. Hood, the exploration of its glaciers plays an important role in understanding regional climate. “The big value is in mapping change. Not just a snapshot in time but mapping the change.” said Eddy Cartay, a member of the Glacier Cave Explorers. He and his group member are exploring the glacier caves. Expedition doctor Woody Peebles explores a new lead in the caves Mt. Hood shadow sunrise Mount-Hood Mt Hood Territory   Spread the...

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Helicopters: The Eye-in-the-Sky for Glacier Research

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Adaptation, All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

Helicopters: The Eye-in-the-Sky for Glacier Research

Spread the News:ShareWith global warming, glaciers are melting, and mountain ranges in the mid-latitudes such as the Swiss Alps are showing significant glacier retreat. For decades researchers have measured the length and area of glaciers to see if they are shrinking or not— a key symptom of disequilibrium— which can be done using photographs and satellites. But a key indicator of a glacier’s health is the volume of the ice, and that’s impossible to calculate without knowing its thickness. To measure this, scientists can take advantage of advanced tools involving helicopters and radar, according to a recent study conducted in the Swiss Alps by Anja Rutishauser, Hansruedi Maurer, and Andreas Bauder and published in the journal Geophysics. To map the ice-bedrock interface, researchers use ground-penetrating radar to go through the air and ice and then down to the rock so they can determine how far down the rock is. While it’s easy to measure the where the top of the glacial ice is, figuring out where it meets the rock below, and thus calculating its thickness, requires instrumentation. However, this is tricky because glaciers are in narrow valleys. So how do you get the equipment above the glacier? It’s possible to place radar directly on the glacier surface; this system produces high-quality images, but there are many places where it is difficult or impossible to gain access to the surface. And it’s cumbersome and expensive to move the equipment from one spot to another on the surface. As the paper states, A major challenge in conducting ground-based surveys arises from the logistical and accessibility problems posed by rough and potentially dangerous terrain (e.g., crevasses). In contrast, airborne GPR systems are less affected by terrain challenges and have a high potential for rapidly investigating large areas. Most such systems used to investigate valley glaciers have been mounted beneath helicopters. Because they can fly, helicopters can soar over tough terrain and cover a lot of ground, and offer a solution to the limits of surveys with radar equipment placed directly on the glacier surface. The authors discuss three different helicopter-borne ground-penetrating radar (GPR) systems. The first system, developed at the University of Münster in Germany, is a low-frequency pulsed system (BGR), the second system is a stepped frequency system, produced by a commercial firm (RST), and the third, with a frequency profile closer to the second, is also a commercial system (GSSI). The BGR system uses two shielded broadband antennae mounted on a frame structure. This structure is attached to a rope, and when in operation hangs 20 meters below the helicopter in flight. The RST system is similar to the BGR system, and differs only in the frequency of the radar pulses that it emits. The GSSI system uses a distinct technique, in which the antennae are mounted directly on the helicopter skids. This GSSI system seemed attractive, since the first two systems, in which the helicopter carried a weight suspended below it, could interfere with the stability and efficiency of the helicopter. Moreover, the GSSI system might allow the helicopter to fly more steadily, producing a smoother image that required less processing to compensate for fluctuations in velocity. The researchers conducted a number of repeat flights to assess the three systems. They used different systems on individual sections of the glacier, and compared the images for two features: the clarity of the images which they produced and the depth of ice that they could penetrate. The RST system proved to be the most effective on both features. Though the GSSI system was more favorable in terms of its effects on the flight performance of...

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Roundup: Modeling Floods, Water Security, and Farmland

Posted by on Feb 8, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Modeling Floods, Water Security, and Farmland

Spread the News:ShareEach week, we highlight three stories from the forefront of glacier news.  Modeling glacial lake outburst flood process chain: the case of Lake Palcacocha and Huaraz, Peru From Hydrology and Earth System Sciences: “One of the consequences of recent glacier recession in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru, is the risk of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) from lakes that have formed at the base of retreating glaciers. GLOFs are often triggered by avalanches falling into 5 glacial lakes, initiating a chain of processes that may culminate in significant inundation and destruction downstream. This paper presents simulations of all of the processes involved in a potential GLOF originating from Lake Palcacocha, the source of a previously catastrophic GLOF on 13 December 1941, killing 1800 people in the city of Huaraz, Peru.” To learn more about the research, click here. Forum reveals new possibilities for water-induced disaster management in the Koshi basin From ICIMOD: “Top officials and experts from the Koshi region gathered in Patna, Bihar on Thursday for a two-day forum to discuss solutions around water security and water-induced disasters in the Koshi basin. Coming after years of devastating floods in southern Nepal and Bihar, the forum emphasised regional cooperation and collecting evidence-based data that can be translated into policy.” To learn more about the research, click here. The Changes in Regional Structure and Land Use Related to External Factors in Hussaini Village, Northern Pakistan From Mapping Transition in the Pamirs: “This study describes changes to regional structure and the use of farmlands in Hussaini village, Pakistan, caused by two events. The first event was the opening of the Karakoram Highway in 1978 that introduced commodities and a money market economy. The enhanced transportation increased access to markets, which spurred a transition from subsistence wheat cultivation and vegetable crops to potato cash crops. The second event was the catastrophic landslide in Atabad which occurred on 4 January 2010 that submerged part of the Karakoram Highway and created a dammed lake. The loss of the highway halted the village’s engagement in the wider agricultural market, and farmlands in the village reverted to traditional agriculture. The changes caused by these outside factors created confusion and disturbance and challenged the villagers to quickly adapt for survival.” To learn more about the research, click here. Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Eastern Canadian Glaciers

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Eastern Canadian Glaciers

Spread the News:ShareThough the glaciers of the western US, western Canada and Alaska as well-known, few people are aware of the glaciers in eastern Canada, more specifically in northern Labrador. Torngat Mountains National Park contains more than 40 active glaciers. It offers a unique opportunity to discover Arctic landscapes, to see wildlife and to have contact with the indigenous peoples who have  lived here for millennia.  Parks Canada will spend the next few years preparing a long-term tourism strategy in consultation with the indigenous people of the area and the provincial government. Iceberg in Torngat Mountains National Park( by Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism NCC: Labrador Nature Atlas Torngat Mountains National Park, Caubvik Glacier, NL (Photo by Geoff Goodyear) Mealy Mountains Canada’s newest national park, in the Mealy Mountains of Newfoundland and Labrador, will be the biggest in the eastern part of the country. Testing the Slopes of the Torngat National Park Few things have changed the landscape of the Torngat Mountains since glaciers carved them thousands of years ago. Winter in the Torngat Mountains Nachvak Fjord Labrador 2008 Nachvak Fjord, Torngat Mountains, Labrador, Canada (Paul Gierszewski - Own work) Spread the...

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In an Empty Building’s Place: Wilderness and Community

Posted by on Jan 14, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

Spread the News:ShareA Swiss NGO, Mountain Wilderness, has developed a solution to a problem found in many alpine regions: the abandoned buildings which result from outmigration of rural families. They designed sustainable, participatory techniques for removing the building materials and applied them to an empty farmhouse in a remote glacier valley as a demonstration project. And once the building was removed, plants could begin to establish themselves on the site, promoting habitat restoration. For their first project site, Mountain Wilderness selected the commune of Safiental, located within the glacier-rich canton of Graubunden. The main village of this commune is located at an elevation of 1,350 m. Its current population of about 900 is roughly half the size of the population at the middle of the 19th century. Like many other high-elevation regions of Switzerland, Safiental has experienced significant outmigration, and it contains many empty buildings. The local residents selected one building for removal. It had been used as a stable during World War II, and provided a few gamekeepers with shelter in the years after the war, but had not been used for either purpose for some time. Their first project faced many challenges. The staff of Mountain Wilderness had to obtain permission for the removal from the owner of the farm and from the local government. They needed to inspect the material carefully to decide the best way to deal with it, and then to arrange for appropriate recycling or waste disposal. Finally, they needed to identify a dozen or so local volunteers to carry out the work, and then to coordinate with the local community to schedule the event. Moreover, to accomplish the tasks of bringing tools up and old materials down, Mountain Wilderness did not want to use helicopters; they oppose their use in mountain areas in general, since the noise disrupts the wildlife and the wilderness character of the region. A branch of the Swiss army lent horses for these activities—a more sustainable form of transportation, as well as a quieter one. When the project was completed, the local residents were satisfied.  A local carpenter, Kay Decasper, selected some of the wood to make into artisanal furniture. The mayor of Safiental, Thomas Buchli, described it as a “strategy that is viable in the long run” since it would promote sustainable tourism in the commune. Though this concern for participatory and sustainable methods added to the effort required for the project, it also increased public awareness of wilderness preservation. In this way, the project became a showpiece for the removal of abandoned buildings and for habitat restoration. Founded in the small town of Brig in southern Switzerland in 1995, Mountain Wilderness is an NGO that promotes the protection of high mountain landscapes. Their philosophy is centered on the word “respect.” It guides their strategy of enlisting mountain sports enthusiasts as a means for preservation of wilderness.  They aim to keep ski resorts from growing too large, and they promote car-pooling and ride-sharing to existing resorts as a way to reduce traffic on mountain roads and to keep parking lots as small as possible. They seek a total ban in the Alps on snowmobiles and heli-skiing, since they strongly value the silence of mountain wilderness. The organization also provides teaching materials to schools as a means of building appreciation of wilderness values. This project was one of the 13 around the world that was nominated for the Mountain Protection Award. This award grants recognition of initiatives that address promotes concrete actions, including energy efficiency, conservation initiatives, waste management, community activities and water conservation. It is awarded by the International Climbing and Mountaineering...

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