Posts by Yurong Yu

A New Glacier Grows at Mount St. Helens

Posted by on Apr 25, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Science | 0 comments

A New Glacier Grows at Mount St. Helens

Spread the News:Share “I grew up in the Yakima Valley (near Mount St. Helens). I was out fishing when I saw the lightning and dark cloud,” Flickr user vmf-214, who captured the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, told GlacierHub. “It looked like a storm. I saw it as I pulled into the yard. Mom came out and said the mountain had blown.” He was describing the volcanic eruption that occurred at Mount St. Helens 37 years ago in May 1980. During that event, an eruption column rose into the sky, ultimately impacting 11 states in the U.S. But it wasn’t just the people who live in the area that were affected by the eruption: the glaciers of Mount St. Helens melted into nearby rivers, causing several mudslides. Cascades Volcano Observatory indicates that before the 1980 eruption, extensive glaciers had covered Mount St. Helens for several hundred thousand years. About 3,900 years ago, Mount St. Helens began to grow to its pre-eruption elevation and a high cone developed, allowing for substantial glacial formation. There were 11 major glaciers and several unnamed glaciers by May 18, 1980, according to the United States Geological Survey. But after the eruption and resultant landslide, about 70 percent of the glacier mass was removed from the mountainside. It was during the winter of 1980 to 1981, following the catastrophic eruption, that a new glacier, Crater Glacier, first emerged. “The glacier formed very fast, in a couple decades,” professor Regine Hock from the University of Alaska – Fairbanks told GlacierHub. It developed in a deep crater left by the eruption and landslide. Rock debris from the crater walls and avalanche snow created a thick deposit between the 1980–86 lava dome and crater walls. Shaped like an amphitheater, the crater protected the glacier from sunlight, allowing the glacier to expand extensively, according to the USGS. By September 1996, it was evident from photographs and monitoring that a new glacier had formed. Crater Glacier at Mount St. Helens is now considered one of the youngest glaciers on Earth. “The glacier tongues can be seen, descending either side of the degassing cone. Much of the glacier is covered by volcanic ash,” notes a recent report in Geography Review. By 2004, the report continues, the glacier covered around 0.36 square miles (0.93 km2), with two lobes wrapping around the lava dome in a horseshoe-like shape. Joseph S. Walder, a research hydrologist at the USGS, has been studying the latest eruptions of Mount St. Helens. When interviewed by GlacierHub, he attributed the formation of the Crater Glacier to three factors. “First, the crater acts as a sort of bowl that collects snow avalanching from the crater walls, so the accumulation rate is extremely high,” Walder said. “Secondly, the crater floor is in shadow most of the time. Last but not least, lots of rock material avalanches onto the crater floor, tending to cover and insulate accumulating snow.” Today, there are hiking tours available throughout the Mount St. Helens area. Climbing the mountain is like walking on the moon, with ash and boulders surrounding you. From the top, you can see the growing volcanic dome, steaming and smoking. Rodney Benson, an earth science teacher and blog writer at bigskywalker.com, hiked into the crater recently. “Some say the world will end in fire. Some say ice. What does this new glacier indicate?” he pondered.   As glaciers around the world recede as a result of climate change, the new glacier provides a fascinating context to explore interactions between volcanic processes, volcanic deposits and glacier behavior. The intensive monitoring programs led by the USGS...

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Photo Friday: Glaciers in Films

Posted by on Apr 21, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Glaciers in Films

Spread the News:ShareMagnificent, beautiful and mysterious, glaciers are a critical part of nature. For thousands years, humans have responded to glaciers through art, incorporating them in paintings, poems, folk songs, and more recently, movies. With the development of modern arts, specifically the film industry, glaciers have popped up in a range of creative endeavors from documentaries to animated pictures. Explore some popular films featuring glaciers with GlacierHub.   Chasing Ice Chasing Ice (2012) is the story of one man’s quest to gather evidence of climate change. A documentary film about environmental photographer James Balog, it tells the story of his trip to the Arctic to capture images to help tell the story of Earth’s changing climate. The film included scenes from a glacier calving event lasting 75 minutes at Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland, the longest calving event ever captured on film. “Battling untested technology in subzero conditions, he comes face to face with his own mortality,” the film introduction states. “It takes years for Balog to see the fruits of his labor. His hauntingly beautiful videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate.”     Ice Age Ice Age (2002) is one of the most popular animations in the world and its sequels have continued to delight thousands of children and adults. First directed by Chris Wedge and produced by Blue Sky Studios, the film is set during the ice age. The characters in the film must migrate due to the coming winters. These animals, including a mammoth family, a sloth Sid, and a saber-tooth tiger Diego, live on glaciers. They find a human baby and set out to return the baby. The animation won positive reviews and awards, making it a successful film about glaciers.       James Bond Jökulsárlón, an unearthly glacial lagoon in Iceland, makes its appearance in several James Bonds films, including A View to Kill (1985) and Die Another Day (2002). A View to Kill, starring Roger Moore, Christopher Walken and Tanya Roberts, was also filmed on location at other glaciers in Iceland, including Vatnajökull Glacier in Vatnajökull, Austurland, Iceland.     China: Between Clouds and Dreams The documentary China: Beyond Clouds and Dreams (2016) is an award-winning new series by Director Phil Agland. The five-part series tells intimate human stories of China’s relationship with nature and the environment as the country grapples with the reality of global warming and ecological collapse. See the trailer here. Commissioned by China Central Television and filmed over three years, the film includes a scene of glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau, where the impacts of climate change are most obvious.         Spread the...

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Explore the Homeland of the Emperor Penguin

Posted by on Apr 11, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, Science | 0 comments

Explore the Homeland of the Emperor Penguin

Spread the News:Share“Each winter, thousands of Emperor Penguins leave the ocean and start marching to a remote place in Antarctica for their breeding season. Blinded by blizzards and strong winds, only guided by their instincts, they march to an isolated region, that does not support life for most of the year…” – March of the Penguins The famous documentary March of the Penguins, directed by Luc Jacquet, earned the emperor penguin fanfare and admiration around the world. With their charismatic shape and loving nature, emperor penguins reside on the ice and in the ocean waters of Antarctica for the entirety of their lifespan, living on average from 15 to 20 years.  Satellite data has been used to help researchers better understand emperor penguin populations and how they respond to environmental variability, including the threat of a rapidly warming planet. But the information gleaned so far remains too limited to significantly help conservation efforts. Enter André Ancel, a researcher who led a team on a mission to study the remaining areas where emperor penguins might breed. His team recently published their findings in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation. March of the Penguins Official Trailer:   “The climate of our planet is undergoing regional and global changes, which are driving shifts in the distribution and phenology of many plants and animals,” Ancel writes in his paper. “We focus on the southern polar region, which includes one of the most rapidly warming areas of the planet. Among birds adapted to live in this extreme and variable environment, penguin species are the best known.” Even with their extreme adaption capabilities, emperor penguin breeding colonies are impacted by the fact that chicks often succumb to Antarctic elements. “Though they are one of the tallest and heaviest birds in the world, the survival rate of newborn emperor penguins is really low, only about 19 percent,” Shun Kuwashima, a PhD student at UCSC and self-declared penguin lover, explained. The purpose of Ansel et al.’s research was to predict how the species responds to climate change and to better understand the penguins’ biogeography, or geographical distribution. “There are only about 54 known breeding colonies,” notes Ancel, “many of which have not yet been comprehensively studied.” But finishing the research was a problem, considering that access to emperor penguin colonies remains limited. Getting accurate measurements on the size and location of the colonies relies on ground mapping and aerial photographs, which is “laborious, time consuming and costly,” according to Ancel. Even with the help of satellites, heavy cloud cover in the winter degrades the quality of images. Not to mention, the lack of light further complicates the collection of accurate data. In addition, the break-out of sea ice at the end of the breeding season can reduce the probability of detecting breeding colonies. Although the authors did not actually conduct any exploration or examine remote sensing data to locate new emperor penguin colonies, they used data on the location of known colonies to make their findings. Based on the behavioral patterns of penguins, including movement and dispersal, and on the availability of food, the researchers found “six regions potentially sheltering colonies of emperor penguins.” It is true that scientists have looked for emperor penguin colonies with satellite data in the past, but the method was limited. To make improvements and find potentially missing colonies, the team developed an approach for calculating separation distance between colonies. The approach determined the loxodromic separation distance (the shortest distance between two points on the surface of a sphere) between each pair of geographically adjacent colonies. Then, based on the fact that a breeding adult...

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The Yin and Yang of Glacier Animation

Posted by on Mar 29, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts | 0 comments

The Yin and Yang of Glacier Animation

Spread the News:SharePororo the Little Penguin is an animated cartoon series that is widely viewed in Korea. “It’s like the Sesame Street of Korea,” said Kyung Hyun Kim, a professor of East Asian languages at the University of California Irvine. “It is very popular among children.” In the animation, Pororo plays with his six close friends, including Poby, a polar bear who lives near a glacier. Their stories, largely set in a snowy forest, offer children important lessons on life. The animation’s popularity is shown by the nickname the children in Korea have given Pororo— ‘Poresident’, or ‘Pororo president.’ Pororo’s image can be found on 1,500 different products, from chopsticks to children’s clothing. Recently, a group of researchers conducted a study on the unprecedented success of Pororo the Little Penguin. Yeo-Jin Yoona and Han Chae are two of the leading authors on the paper published in the journal of Integrative Medicine Research. Their study focused on the biophysical features of seven of the animation’s characters. An episode of Pororo the Little Penguin, dubbed in English here. “Our intention was to select one of the most successful recent animations. How well animation characters are designed to reflect realistic physical appearances and personalities can explain its success,” Yoona told GlacierHub. “Animal characters can be good to study to understand children’s point of view.” Moreover, Yoona described how animation characters were “created to embody distinctive personality and body image.” Yet, prior to the recent study, those features had not been analyzed with objective measures based on East-Asian theory. “The purpose of this study was to analyze the biopsychological features of seven animation characters in Pororo the Little Penguin with clinically validated and standardized measures of Sasang typology,” the paper explains. Sasang typology is a classification scheme used in traditional Korean medicine that dates back to 1894, when western medicine had not yet been introduced in Korea. People tended to use “yin and yang” to explain everything in the world, including human beings themselves. Chae, a professor at the School of Korean Medicine at Pusan National University, elucidated the classification scheme further: “The Sasang typology divides people into four categories: Tae-Yang or ‘greater yang,’ Tae-Eum or ‘greater yin,’ So-Yang or ‘less yang,’ and So-Eum or ‘less yin.’” This typology then explains individual differences in susceptibility to a certain disease. The typology was inherited by modern Korean medicine and applied to broader perspectives. It can be used to classify people’s personality, strengths, and weaknesses. For instance, in the animation, Poby, the polar bear that lives on a glacier, enjoys fishing, playing drums and photography. Although Poby is the largest character in the animation, he also has a gentle nature, talks slowly, and is kind to all of his friends. Because of his good temper, he takes responsibility when it comes to doing chores in the village, usually trying his best to keep everyone else safe and happy. It is no surprise that Poby is popular among kids, and even has his own webpage! There are also Poby figures available for purchase on Amazon. Poby’s contrasting traits and personality are easily identifiable in the animation. The contrasts in his personality were indicated in the results of Yoona’s study. Interestingly, Korean medicine believes those with a larger body should have a Tae-Eum or “greater yin” type character. But Poby’s calm, gentle, and thoughtful demeanor identify him as a So-Eum or “less yin” type. In this way, he shows the complexity of a human being in the real world. In a movie, there can be simple characters like Pororo and also more complicated characters like Poby. Poby’s unique personality brings a balance of Yin-Yang temperament to the seven main characters in...

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Snow Bacteria, A Pandora’s Box?

Posted by on Mar 14, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

Snow Bacteria, A Pandora’s Box?

Spread the News:ShareRemember the famous scene in the movie “The Day after Tomorrow” when the flood comes, along with storms and a tsunami, and hundreds of people are killed at the dawn of a new ice age? In that scene, the bacteria once frozen in the world’s glaciers is released due to global warming. It turns out that fateful scenario may one day come true, according to recent research by Yongqin Liu, a scientist at the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research (ITPR) in China. You might be surprised or confused about how bacteria could survive in extremely cold conditions for thousands of years. The reason bacteria and other viruses can remain dormant in the ice layer is because some bacteria are cold-adapted. Glaciers can serve as excellent locations for such bacteria to survive during long periods of extreme cold. “A frozen condition is not optimal for most creatures on earth, but it does provide a satisfactory living environment for some microorganisms,” said Liu.   In the last few decades, scientists at the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research have been studying snow bacteria in the Tibetan Plateau. Liu is one of the leading scholars on the team. For instance, earlier in 2008, she conducted research about snow bacterial abundance and diversity at the Guoqu Glacier and the East Rongbuk Glacier. By using a special approach (16S rRNA gene clone library and flow cytometry), Liu and her colleagues observed different patterns of seasonal variation at the two glaciers. They found that bacterial diversity at the glaciers also exhibits different responses to various environmental conditions. In an interview with GlacierHub, Liu explained, “Currently, we are focusing on the diversity of snow bacteria from glaciers in the Tibetan Plateau environment. Our latest paper was about snow bacteria on the Zangser Kangri Glacier. We managed to identify the major sources of the bacteria and make a comparison of snow bacterial abundance between the Zangser Kangri Glacier and other glaciers of the Tibetan Plateau.” Liu is one of many scientists fascinated with snow bacteria. But others might feel it is irrelevant to their modern life since these bacteria remain in a deep and frozen sleep. Shuhong Zhang, a researcher at Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, believes otherwise. “One impact of climate change is the rapid shrinking of glaciers,” Zhang writes in an article. “This results in microorganisms getting deposited into glacial snow or ice and being exposed to new environments such as glacier forelands.” Shlomit Paz, a scientist from University of Haifa, also found that the West Nile virus, one of the world’s most widely distributed viruses, could be propelled by global warming. “Recent changes in climatic conditions, particularly increased snowmelt and glacier retreat, contributed to the maintenance of the West Nile Virus in various locations in southern Europe, western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean, the Canadian Prairies, parts of the USA and Australia,” Paz writes. “As predictions show that the current trends are expected to continue, for better preparedness, any assessment of future transmission of West Nile Virus should take into consideration the impacts of climate change.” So perhaps one day, without actions taken to mitigate climate change, a Pandora’s box will be opened. In the ancient Greek myth, all the evils fly out of the box. And now, climate change may set lethal bacteria and viruses free, posing a new, catastrophic threat to human beings. Spread the...

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