News

Glacier Researcher Receives Major National Geographic Award

Posted by on Jul 25, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Interviews, News | 0 comments

Glacier Researcher Receives Major National Geographic Award

Spread the News:ShareM Jackson has recently completed her Ph.D. at the department of geography at the University of Oregon, based on her research on cultural perceptions of glacier retreat in Iceland. She has held U.S. Fulbright Scholarships in Iceland and Turkey, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia. Her book While Glaciers Slept draws together family narratives of loss and death with environmental narratives of climate change, linking together mourning and courage, devastation and hope. She is one of the authors of a widely-recognized article on feminist perspectives in glaciology. Jackson has led National Geographic Student Expeditions programs in Alaska and Iceland. She received recognition earlier this year as a 2017 National Geographic Emerging Explorer. She described this award and the events surrounding it in an interview with GlacierHub. GH:  Could you please tell us one or two of the most memorable points of your time with the other NatGeo explorers? MJ: One of my favorite moments was on the third or fourth day of the National Geographic’s Explorer’s Festival, when I slipped into a small side room in the middle of the day just to take a breath amidst the many activities and events. So I walked into this room, saw a small chair, and I sat down, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. And when I opened my eyes, sitting directly across from me was Sylvia Earle (aka Her Deepness, or The Sturgeon General). [Earle is a leading marine biologist, and was the first female chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.] She was looking directly at me and smiling. And she said, “Hi M!” And for me, this was pretty incredible. Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic Explorer in Residence, has long been a hero of mine due both to her decades of incredible work and because she’s been such a pioneer and advocate for women in science. And for her to know me, and be so gracious with her time and supportive of my work— this was a very important moment for me. A second moment that stands out was the first day, meeting the other 2017 Explorers. These were men and women from across the globe, all leaders in diverse fields, all gathered together in this place to talk about the work they love to do and genuinely interested in each other! And sitting there, listening to conversations about Zika, the Okavango, dinosaur fossils, glaciers, indigenous genome sequencing, participatory mapping in Chad, bomb-sniffing rats, jaguars, Gorongosa National Park [in the Great Rift Valley in Mozambique], orangutan dental health, photographing hummingbirds, and underwater robots, it was amazing to understand the similarities of all these different research foci and the potential for collaboration.   GH:  What were one or two of the surprises about your position as a NatGeo explorer? MJ: The surprise about being a 2017 NGS Explorer is the emphasis on collaboration. Across the board, throughout the symposium, whether Marina Elliot was talking about finding fossils within Rising Star [Cave] in South Africa, Tierney Thys was discussing bringing nature into jails, Neil DeGrasse Tyson was talking about how he became an explorer, Anand Varma telling us how he photographed parasites, or Adjany Costa describing how she walked 1,000 miles from the Okavango Delta in Botswana to the river’s headwaters, every one of these Explorers accomplished what they did through collaboration with other researchers, explorers, local people, and immense networks of supportive people. Accordingly, the emphasis as an Explorer is to collaborate— every person I talked with told me about the work they did and actively stretched to see where our work overlapped, what collaborative potential...

Read More

Roundup: Mysteries, Past and Present, Abound

Posted by on Jul 24, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Mysteries, Past and Present, Abound

Spread the News:ShareClimate Experts Removed from Zuckerberg Delegation From the Washington Post: “Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg flew to Glacier National Park on Saturday to tour the melting ice fields that have become the poster child for climate change’s effects on Montana’s northern Rockies. But days before the tech tycoon’s visit, the Trump administration abruptly removed two of the park’s top climate experts from a delegation scheduled to show him around, telling a research ecologist and the park superintendent that they were no longer going to participate in the tour.” Read more about this unusual move here.   Water Rights Hold Up Washington State Budget From the Seattle Times: “$4 billion in new construction projects and money for a few hundred state jobs still hang in the balance while the capital budget has been held up by a dispute over water rights. Senate Republicans say they won’t pass a capital budget without legislation aimed at overturning a recent state Supreme Court known as the Hirst decision. That ruling effectively limited the use of new domestic wells in certain rural areas when they may harm senior water rights.” Read about the complexities of this issue here.   Retreating Glaciers Solve a Family Mystery From The Telegraph: “The frozen bodies of a Swiss couple who went missing 75 years ago in the Alps have been found on a shrinking glacier, Swiss media said on Tuesday. Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, the parents of seven children, had gone to milk their cows in a meadow above Chandolin in the Valais canton on August 15, 1942.” Read about what this means to one of the couple’s surviving children here.     Spread the...

Read More

2017 Equator Prize Awarded to Pakistan NGO

Posted by on Jul 18, 2017 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

2017 Equator Prize Awarded to Pakistan NGO

Spread the News:ShareThis year, the 2017 Equator Prize recognizing local conservation and sustainability initiatives was awarded to the Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organization (BWCDO), marking the first time an organization from Pakistan has earned this biennial award. The Equator Prize, launched by the United Nation’s Equator Initiative in 2002, showcases community efforts to relieve poverty through conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity. BWCDO, a Pakistan NGO located in the Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, aims to protect snow leopards (and other wildlife) in ways that support local development by providing economic incentives to farmers, including insurance schemes and compensation, to combat human-snow leopard conflicts. Shafqat Hussain founded Project Snow Leopard in 1999 to conserve the snow leopard and wildlife population in the region by including local communities. Since 2006, Project Snow Leopard has been incorporated into BWCDO, with Hussain continuing to serve as an advisor to the organization, and currently operates in 17 villages in northern Pakistan. Additionally, BWCDO recently launched an education program in Pakistan to raise awareness and encourage local youth, including girls, to participate in conservation and development initiatives. One example of the NGO’s ongoing efforts is International Snow Leopard Day in Gilgit-Baltistan, which began in November 2015. BWCDO finances its operations by charging farmers annually a premium per head of livestock. However, most of the financing comes from selling snow leopard trekking expeditions through commercial tour operators. BWCDO and a village management committee promote these ecotourism activities in order to supplement farmers’ income, creating economic incentives for farmers not to harm the snow leopards. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), snow leopards are endangered. It is difficult to address and fund the protection of snow leopards when the herders in the area are poor and lack adequate resources to counter negative consequences of snow leopard activity. BWCDO’s goal is to address both of these obstacles. In northern Pakistan, local farmers make an average annual income per capita of $300. Therefore, an attack by a snow leopard on a farmer’s livestock threatens the entire livelihood of that farmer who already lives in extreme poverty. Occasionally, farmers have killed snow leopards after their herds were attacked, increasing the threat of the snow leopard’s extinction. The organization has further countered the economic losses caused by snow leopard attacks by assisting communities with predator-proof fencing and training on improved herding techniques. In addition to these initiatives, the abundance of glaciers in the region have helped to maintain rivers and wetlands essential to the wild antelope and sheep that snow leopards eat. However, global warming, deforestation, over hunting and logging in the area further threaten the snow leopards and jeopardize the livelihoods of the local people in northern Pakistan. If the degradation of environmental conditions continues unchecked in the region, an increase in flash floods, species extinction, pest attacks, and glacial melting is expected, placing the surrounding communities at greater risk for displacement, poverty, destruction of water bank infrastructures, and other problems. Increased glacial melting will also leave a third of the snow leopards’ habitats unsuitable and disrupt the migratory routes of other species. For example, if temperatures increase, then the tree line will move higher up the mountains, altering the plant species that can grow and making the habitat less appealing to the snow leopards’ prey. In an interview with Babar Khan, a Senior Conservation Manager at WWF- Pakistan, told GlacierHub that “in some places, particularly on shared habitats, [changing climatic conditions] has increased the negative interactions between human and the carnivores, which has ultimately led to retaliatory killing of top predators like snow leopards,...

Read More

Roll Model: Clean Climbing for Denali’s Centennial

Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

Roll Model: Clean Climbing for Denali’s Centennial

Spread the News:ShareDenali is widely romanticized as pristine wilderness, yet over a thousand people attempt to reach its summit every year, generating waste that is sometimes left on the mountain— lost caches of food and supplies, coffee grounds and uneaten food, and of course, human waste— over two metric tons per year. This climbing season, Denali National Park is celebrating its 100th year by launching the “2017 Birthday Pack-Out Initiative,” in which climbers on the popular West Rib and West Buttress routes are encouraged to carry out all the waste they generate. “The issue of waste and pollution in mountains is a chronic problem,” Carolina Adler, president of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation’s (UIAA) Mountain Protection Commission, said in a recent interview. “As mountaineers, it is in our interest – and our responsibility as mountain ‘stewards’ – to make sure that mountains not only continue to be safeguarded for all, but also for them to be able to continue to fulfill a crucial and healthy ecological function,” she said. For the last decade, the National Park Service has required that climbers tote down all waste at Denali from above the high camp at 17,200 feet, but waste generated below 14,000 feet can be “crevassed”— that is, literally thrown into a crevasse. That’s the fate of 90 percent of human waste generated in the park, and research has proven that this waste is making its way out of crevasses via the hydraulic system of the glacier, into the rivers that flow out of the Kahiltna Glacier. Out of sight may be out of mind for now, but it’s certainly not out of the ecosystem— as the glacier flows down the mountain, researchers expect that buried human waste will surface after about 70 years. Roger Robinson, a park ranger in Denali National Park and Preserve, is the head of the Clean Climbing Initiative, and has been working on the issue of human waste on Denali for over forty years. “Garbage isn’t something to be abandoned in the mountains, or anywhere. For the next thousand years, we’ll be contributing to E. coli in the outwash that comes out of the Kahiltna Glacier. The only thing to do is to start now and try to mitigate,” he said. The key to pollution mitigation is education, Robinson says. “Denali is an international mountain with people from all over the world wanting to get up the thing,” he told GlacierHub in an interview. “Every year, climbers from thirty to forty nationalities attempt the mountain, and everyone has a different philosophy on what’s garbage and what’s sustainable. We have to drive home the fact that the mountain belongs to everybody in the U.S. and the world, and we want to leave it clean. We have to drive home that ideology.” Toward the goal of maintaining “healthy ecological function” in Denali, the park service will ultimately require climbers to carry 100 percent of the waste they make off the mountain, a standard more stringent than most peaks in the National Park system, and most major peaks in the world, according to Robinson. In the first year of the Pack-Out Initiative, climbers are tempted to participate with a special “Sustainable Summits Denali” commemorative flag, a “Denali Pro pin,” and a “Clean Mountain Can,” a portable toilet developed by the American Alpine Club, to pack out their waste. But Alaskan mountaineer Jason Stuckey, who is training to climb Denali after having summited several other peaks in the Alaska Range, isn’t convinced. “It’s a lot of poop to be carrying around. The clean canteens aren’t that big, and carrying...

Read More

A New Ingredient to Whiskey: Glacial Water

Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, News, Tourism | 0 comments

A New Ingredient to Whiskey: Glacial Water

Spread the News:ShareGlacier water’s remarkable range of uses has just been expanded in a new direction: whiskey production. The Glacier Distilling Company, a locally-owned distillery located in Coram, Montana, next to Glacier National Park, uses glacier water in the production of their craft whiskeys. The distillery uses pure glacial water from the Northern Rockies and locally grown grains to produce an alpine whiskey that brings out the local flavors of the distillery’s surroundings. The company was founded in 2011 and has been steadily growing, with their production doubling each year. The distillery’s success has been attributed to their passion to produce the highest quality of whiskey. The genesis of alpine whiskey was during the cold winter of 2009-10 when Nicholas Lee, founder of Glacier Distilling, and a group of his friends, were convening around a fire in North Fork, Montana. As they were sipping on whiskey, the group began debating how they would get whiskey if faced with Armageddon. The simple answer – make it themselves. Glacier Distilling’s first product was an un-aged white whiskey called Glacier Dew. Lee was inspired by a story of a woman named Josephine Doody who built her own moonshine business in Glacier National Park in the 1920’s, straight through Prohibition. Lee, originally from North Carolina, was drawn by the allure of making homemade spirits. “We need to be self sufficient out here just in case!” Lee said in an interview with NBC Montana. As Lee’s business grew, the company’s liquor collection also expanded to 19 different products, including gin, vodka, brandies, absinthe and other liqueurs. Glacier Distilling is just six miles away from Glacier National Park, which hit a record breaking 2.36 million visitors in 2016. The park’s popularity attracts tourists and locals to the Coram area and the distillery. The company’s collection starts with a simple ingredient, glacier water. Lee told GlacierHub that the company “found an old barn with a good well on a glacial aquifer with pure, cold water, and started distilling.” The glacier water is later transformed into a multitude of infused liquors such as Glacier County Honey and Flathead Lake Cherries. Why use glacial water to make liquor? “Glacial water is considered to be purer, as it is frozen and then thawed, which removes some contaminants,” said Anthony Caporale, producer of “The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking,”a music and comedy show about the history and science of cocktails and spirits, in an interview with GlacierHub. “Water absolutely affects the taste of the liquor, as it makes up 60 percent of what’s in the bottle (the other 40 percent being ethyl alcohol). That’s why distillers are so crazy-protective of their water sources.” But the question remains – how does one make whiskey with glacier water? Glacier Distilling relies on an old-school technique to distill their whiskey – fractional distillation. It’s a multi-step process where ethanol and water are separated due to the difference in boiling points, according to the company’s website. The company starts by mashing and fermenting the grain by cooking 500 lbs. of grain in 200 gallons of water in a mash tank. Later on, the cooled mash is transported into a fermentation tank for about 3-7 days. This allows for the yeast to consume a majority of the sugar, making the mash into a 10-12 percent ABV, alcohol by volume, which is a standard measure of how much alcohol is in a given volume, “distiller’s beer” or “wash.” Once the wash begins boiling, due to the difference in boiling points, alcohol (which boils at 173º F while water at 212º F) will start to boil out...

Read More

Roundup: A Mountainous Geopolitical Stage 

Posted by on Jul 10, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: A Mountainous Geopolitical Stage 

Spread the News:ShareControversial World Heritage Site Proclaimed From the Japan Times: “A handful of pro-Tibet activists protested earlier this week while the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) advocacy group warned that giving Hoh Xil heritage status could have consequences for Tibet.” Read more about the controversy around one of the newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites here.   Indian Pilgrims Stalled in the Mountains From The Economic Times: “China accused Indian troops of ‘crossing the boundary’ in the Sikkim sector and put their immediate withdrawal as condition to reopen the Nathu La Pass for Indian pilgrims traveling to Kailash Mansarovar.” Read more about the impasse here.   Himalayan Border Dispute From the Hindustan Times: “China on Friday accused India of ‘ulterior motives’ in claiming the entire Doklam or Donglang region as part of the tri-junction with Bhutan, saying New Delhi’s stance went against its acceptance of a British-era convention on national boundaries in the area.” Read more about the Sikkim standoff here.   Spread the...

Read More