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Roundup: Green Development, Glacier Reduction, and Psychiatry

Posted by on Aug 7, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup, Science | 0 comments

Roundup: Green Development, Glacier Reduction, and Psychiatry

Spread the News:ShareGreen Development in Patagonia From Project Muse: “This paper examines how Southern Andean Patagonia has been increasingly incorporated within networks of global capital since the 1990s. This remote region has become an iconic center for green development in Latin America. The article develops the argument that a regional territorial imaginary has facilitated this recent shift towards green development across the resource domains of land conservation, hydropower, and forestry. The discussion addresses the different ways in which forests, waterways, and protected areas (public and private) have been integrated into a hegemonic vision promoting eco-regionalism among state, corporate, and civil society actors.” Read more about Southern Andean Patagonia here.   Glacier Reduction in Tibetan Plateau From AGU Publications: “In this study, we focused on light-absorbing impurities (LAIs), including black carbon, organic carbon, and mineral dust in glacial surface snow from southeaster Tibetan glaciers. This study showed the concentrations of LAIs, and estimated their impact on albedo reduction. Furthermore, we discussed the potential source of impurities and their impact to the study area. These results provide scientific basis for regional mitigation efforts to reduce black carbon.” Learn more about the light-absorbing impurities here.   Combat Psychiatry of Indian Armed Forces From Science Direct: “Indian Armed Forces have been engaged in various combat duties for long. The adverse effect of prolonged and repetitive deployment of troops in these highly stressful environment leads to many combat stress behaviors as well as misconduct behaviors. Preventing, identifying and managing these disruptive behaviors are an essential part of combat psychiatry within the larger domain of combat medicine. Indian Armed Forces have a well-oiled mechanism to handle these issues and military psychiatrists are deeply engaged in providing holistic mental health care to the esteemed clientele.” The article mentions the Siachen Glacier (where India and Pakistan meet) as one of the sites in the study. Learn more about the hardships faced by the Indian Armed Forces here. Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Equatorial Glaciers of Puncak Jaya

Posted by on Aug 4, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Equatorial Glaciers of Puncak Jaya

Spread the News:ShareIn 1989, Indonesia’s highest peak, Puncak Jaya (16,564 ft), within the Sudirman Range of Papua New Guinea, boasted five glaciers along its slopes. Today, these rare equatorial glaciers of Asia are nearly gone. By 2009, both Meren and Southwall, two of Puncak Jaya’s glaciers, had disappeared completely, and the remaining three glaciers, Carstenz, East Northwall Firn, and West North Wall Firn glaciers, were well on their way to doing the same, according to NASA Earth Observatory. A group of scientists collecting cores on Puncak Jaya reported to NPR in 2010 that they had watched the glacier “drop 12 inches in just two weeks.” Tropical glaciers— 99 percent of which are found in the Andes of Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru— have retreated rapidly in the last century, many losing more than half of their ice mass. Puncak Jaya’s glaciers experience only slight equatorial mean temperature variation during the year (around 0.5°C), according to NASA. “Experts think rising air temperatures are the primary reason that the glaciers have lost so much ice so quickly,” the Earth Observatory reports, but it also notes that “changes in humidity levels, precipitation patterns, and cloudiness can also have an impact.” View images of the massive retreat of Puncak Jaya’s glaciers.                 Spread the...

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When Rivers Meet the Sea: Carbon Cycling in the Gulf of Alaska

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

When Rivers Meet the Sea: Carbon Cycling in the Gulf of Alaska

Spread the News:ShareWhen rivers meet the sea, the sediment they carry becomes mixed into the ocean, where it makes quite a splash, biogeochemically speaking. In the subarctic North Pacific Ocean, for example, iron-rich sediment delivered from the continental margin spurs a wintertime phytoplankton bloom over 900 kilometers offshore. The presence of these terrigenous particles is felt up the food chain— the higher levels of iron in the water support larger diatom populations, which means more snacking for copepods, a type of zooplankton. In the Gulf of Alaska, glacial meltwater is an important source of terrestrial particles. A recent study by Jessica Turner, Jessica Pretty, and Andrew McDonnell optically measured particles in the northern Gulf of Alaska, an area with extensive glacial inputs. This technique allowed the researchers to collect massive amounts of data with minimal lab work, maximizing the area they could survey, Jessica Pretty told GlacierHub. Their instrument measured a range of particle sizes, from some too small to be seen by the naked eye to others as large as paper clips. Pretty and her coauthors found that in the Gulf of Alaska, particle concentrations are denser in two main places: where glaciers and rivers flow into the Gulf, and offshore, near the continental shelf break, where they are buoyed by waves, currents and tidal action. These small particles wield great influence, increasing biological productivity at the shelf break. “The Gulf of Alaska is an interesting region,” said Pretty. “It has major freshwater input seasonally from melting glaciers and river runoff that eventually joins with Pacific waters and makes its way toward the Arctic.” The recent findings illuminate particle distribution in the northern Gulf of Alaska, yielding clues about how climate change may affect carbon cycling in the Gulf and parallel ocean systems. Beyond local significance to the Gulf of Alaska ecosystem, the influence of these river-borne terrestrial particles scales up— globally, such sediment inputs impacts the carbon cycle, which regulates climate. The bits of rock Pretty tracked in the Gulf of Alaska are essentially tiny bundles of carbon, and when these bundles sink in the ocean, they drive what scientists have termed the “biological pump,” the process by which the ocean cycles organic and inorganic carbon, and sequesters carbon dioxide in the deep ocean. Because carbon dioxide is constantly exchanged between the upper layers of the ocean and lower levels of the atmosphere, concentrations become equal in the shallow ocean and low atmosphere over time. However, sinking particles remove carbon from this exchange. “The biological pump allows the ocean to store more carbon than it would be able to just from equilibration,” explained Pretty. The ocean absorbs a quarter of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year, and so as carbon is pumped into the atmosphere, levels in the ocean increase in tandem. This leads to ocean acidification, which threatens many marine species. However, terrestrial carbon sequestration practices, like soil conservation and wildfire suppression, may be an important element of climate change mitigation. As global climate warms and glaciers melt, higher glacial inputs will carry more sediment to the Gulf of Alaska and analogous ecosystems around the world. These minute particles will ramp up the global biological pump, increase carbon sequestration, and lead to a myriad of impacts yet unknown. In addition, seasonal changes, like an earlier springtime, may also spur earlier phytoplankton blooms, changing the dynamics of life in the sea. Through the movement of minuscule specks of rock, the Gulf of Alaska, and ultimately the whole ocean, will change. Spread the...

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From Sea to Summit: the Māori and the Crown

Posted by on Aug 2, 2017 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts | 0 comments

From Sea to Summit: the Māori and the Crown

Spread the News:ShareTypically, the stones that have made their way through faraway moraines down to the mouths of glacier-fed rivers never return to their high-altitude origins. But on the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitingi between the British Crown and the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand, Māori and Crown representatives came together to usher two stones from the mouth of the Waitiki river to the base of the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s longest glacier. A recent article in Te Kaharoa documents the lifework of an indigenous Māori activist, Anne Sissie Pate Titaha Te Maihāroa Dodds, and her efforts to build peaceful relations between Māori and non-indigenous communities. The colony of New South Wales was founded by Britain in 1788, and while its territory technically included much of what is now New Zealand, Britain didn’t become involved politically on the islands until the 1820s, in response to reports about European lawlessness. Ultimately, the Treaty of Waitingi was signed in 1840, with the Crown and Māori chiefs coming to a contractual agreement over New Zealand’s relationship to settler colonialism. The treaty has been the source of longstanding dispute because of conflicting political agendas and issues of translation that continue to plague relations between sovereign states and indigenous communities worldwide. In short, notions of rights over property and land emerge within individual cosmological systems, and when these systems are forced to confront one another, it is nearly impossible for each side to understand the other. The article’s author, Kelli Te Maihāroa, explained in an interview with GlacierHub that for the Māori, Papatūānuku (Earth Mother) is considered sacred and does not belong to human beings, although human beings derive from and return to her. This understanding is the complete inverse of that held by the British, for whom land could be possessed and parceled. Any treaty that offered permanent control over the land and its resources was incoherent in traditional Māori culture. Though Te Maihāroa Dodds recognizes these disputes, she has chosen to dedicate her life to community-building across boundaries, bringing indigenous and non-indigenous parties together in pursuit of a more equitable future. The article is a life-history of Te Maihāroa Dodds that elucidates the many corners of New Zealand life, indigenous and not, that she has touched. A steadfast promoter of Māori tino rakatirataka (self-determination), she has advocated for environmental awareness in keeping with Māori traditional practices. On December 31, 1989, Te Maihāroa Dodds and others organized an Ocean to Alps celebration (New Zealand’s mountains are known as the ‘Southern Alps’) to mark the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitingi. To commemorate the event, two stones were chosen from the mouth of the Waitiki river by a Māori tribal chief. According to the author, the chief was a deeply spiritual man, and was probably drawn to the Mauri (life force) of the stones. “As we would say, it was speaking or calling to him,” she stated. The two stones were then transported via boat by a group of Māori and Crown representatives up the river, and ultimately placed at two locations: the Tasman Glacier’s moraine and its visitor center (to commemorate the event). For Te Maihāroa Dodds, it runs in the family. She is a direct descendant of Te Maihāroa, a Māori priest who in the late 19th century unified Māori living on New Zealand’s South Island against the influx of Western encroachment. Like her great-grandfather, she has a commitment to the land as it was traditionally understood— not belonging to human beings, but acting as the bearer of mankind. In an interview with GlacierHub, Te Maihāroa...

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Swiss Couple’s Bodies Found After 75 Years in a Glacier

Posted by on Aug 1, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

Swiss Couple’s Bodies Found After 75 Years in a Glacier

Spread the News:ShareOn July 14, 2017, the remains of a Swiss couple were discovered in the Swiss Alps after 75 years buried underneath a glacier. During a routine maintenance inspection, a ski-lift technician came across the couple’s “perfectly preserved” bodies on the Tsanfleuron glacier near the Swiss city of Berne, where Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin lived. The bodies were dressed in well-preserved World War II era clothing and had with them backpacks, watches, mess kits and a glass bottle, according to the Valais police. The Dumoulins went missing on August 15, 1942, at ages 40 and 37 years old, on their way to a mountain pasture to feed their cattle. Rescue teams and local villagers searched for the couple after they vanished but came up with no clues as to the couple’s whereabouts. The Dumoulin’s disappearance left seven children– five boys and two girls– orphans. The children were split up and sent to live with different families in the neighborhood, but they would reunite each year on the anniversary of their parent’s disappearance and climb the glaciers to pray, according to the New York Times. Following the discovery of the two bodies in July, the couple’s remaining living children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren attended a funeral service held in Saviese, Switzerland. Marceline Udry-Dumoulin, 79, the youngest of the Dumoulin’s seven children, told reporters that she wore white to her parents funeral on July 22 because “white represents the color of hope, which she never lost.” Another daughter, Marceline, told local paper Le Nouvelliste that “joy, acknowledgment, serenity, peace” are what she feels at her parent’s funeral. It is now assumed that the couple fell into a crevasse in the Tsanfleuron glacier, which lies about 2,600 meters above sea level, and their bodies had been trapped there ever since. The Dumoulins were among 280 people listed as missing in the Alps and nearby regions since 1925. It was not until the Tsanfleuron glacial ice began to melt that the bodies became visible. When asked about the danger of glaciers, Martin Beniston, a climate scientist from the University of Geneva, told GlacierHub, “Glaciers are rather hazardous surfaces and unwary. Skiers or trekkers often get injured or killed when falling in crevasses or if a snow-bridge that covers a crevasse collapses under the weight of the person.” Nadine Salzmann, a Swiss geographer at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, added, “In earlier days, people had to cross glaciers when moving from one mountain valley to the next for trading goods, etc. Mountaineers need to be even more careful when moving on glaciers, as glaciers have been changing their ‘face’ very quickly for the past decades.” How were the Dumoulin’s bodies preserved after so many years? Human tissue has a high-water content, so when put under frozen conditions, the ice crystals in the tissue can sublimate, according to an interview in Live Science with Dan Fisher, a professor at the University of Michigan. Sublimation is a change in a state of matter where a substance transforms from solid ice to water vapor without passing through a liquid phase; therefore, the tissue dries out. The cold and dry conditions of the Tsanfleuron glacier stopped the bacteria and fungi from breaking down the tissue, keeping both bodies intact. The Dumoulin story is similar to other discoveries made as glaciers around the world shrink due to climate change. For example, in 2003, coins, leather, arrows, and piece of a wooden bowl, all dating back to 4500 B.C., were discovered at the Schnidejoch glacier, about 20 miles away from Tsanfleuron. Since 1900, the Alps have lost about half of their volume, and global warming has caused the Tsanfleuron glacier to lose up to half a meter a year. Many long-buried bodies and...

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Roundup: Crack, Flood, Fight

Posted by on Jul 31, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics, Roundup, Science | 0 comments

Roundup: Crack, Flood, Fight

Spread the News:SharePetermann Crack Develops From Grist: “Petermann is one of the largest and most important glaciers in the world, with a direct connection to the core of the Greenland ice sheet. That means that even though this week’s new iceberg at Petermann is just 1/500th the size of the massive one that broke off the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica earlier this month, it could eventually have a much bigger effect on global sea levels. Scientists believe that if Petermann collapses completely, it could raise the seas by about a foot.” Read more about the potential collapse of the Petermann here.   Glacial Outburst Flood Rages in Iceland From The Watchers: “A glacial outburst flood started in Iceland’s Múlakvísl river around midnight UTC on July 29, 2017. Electrical conductivity is now measured around 580µS/cm and has increased rapidly the last hour, Icelandic Met Office (IMO) reported 10:14 UTC on July 29. Increasing water levels of this river are an important indicator of Katla’s upcoming volcanic eruptions.” Read about safety concerns associated with the flood here.   Conflict in the Himalayas From The New York Times: “The road stands on territory at the point where China, India and Bhutan meet…The standoff began last month when Bhutan, a close ally of India, discovered Chinese workers trying to extend the road. Now soldiers from the two powers are squaring off, separated by only a few hundred feet. The conflict shows no sign of abating, and it reflects the swelling ambition— and nationalism— of both countries. Each is governed by a muscular leader eager to bolster his domestic standing while asserting his country’s place on the world stage as the United States recedes from a leading role.” Learn more about the geopolitics of this standoff here.   Spread the...

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