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Glaciers and the Rise of Nazism

Posted by on Jul 6, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts | 0 comments

Glaciers and the Rise of Nazism

Spread the News:ShareGlaciers and the mountains that convey them have come to symbolize purity— one which has been marred by glacial retreat. We long to return to a state in which glaciers aren’t retreating as a result of anthropogenic climate change, where the condition of the world aligns more closely with our belief in what it should be again. But, historically, glaciers and the mountains that convey them have also symbolized other, more insidious forms of purity. In a recent article in German Studies Review, Wilfried Wilms outlines the ways in which a flurry of German films and novels in the 1930s recast the glacier-rich Alps and region of South Tyrol as traditional German living space. Wilms focuses on works produced between 1931 and 1936, a time when German nationalist discourse was on the rise and support of a greater pan-German alliance between Germany and mountainous Austria was gaining widespread currency in the lead-up to the Nazi takeover of 1933 and annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938. By locating German speakers within alpine settings and showcasing their natural affinity to mountain climbing and glacier landscapes, filmmakers and novelists contributed to a discourse that sought to integrate the greater Germanic world by establishing a common set of uniquely German traits. In an interview with GlacierHub, Wilms described the roots of the notion of mountain and glacial purity in relation to both German racial and environmental ideals. “There is the discourse on elevation in Nietzsche’s ‘Zarathustra‘ on rising above the lowlands; ennobling the Self in its struggle with the mountains; the purity of snow and firn [an intermediate stage between snow and glacier ice], and its disconnectedness to the (soiled) realms below. After the defeat in World War I, the mountains become a place of individual, cultural and national renewal— a proving ground, a training ground for the youth and its future for Germany,” he said. Unlike “All Quiet on the Western Front,” which portrayed the horrors and banality of the first World War, German films after 1931 valorized war in ways that fed into the nation’s growing territorial ambitions. Historically, the mountainous region of Tyrol had been home to a mostly German-speaking, Austrian population— that is, before Italian irredentists got in the way. With the Axis defeat at the close of the first World War, South Tyrol was formally ceded to Italy in the 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain. Over the next decade, Mussolini instituted a series of Italianization programs in an effort to reduce the Germanic cultural sway in the region. These programs were well known to the public in Weimar Germany, and Wilms argues that a crisis emerged for Germans: as ideas of pan-Germanism were taking hold, their German-speaking brethren were being pushed out of their homeland, a place that was felt through its Alpine features to be distinctively German. A spate of cinematic and literary portrayals of the Alpine War, fought between Austrian and Italian troops in Tyrol during World War I, became a means through which the German population was mobilized and militarized in the lead-up to the second World War. According to Noah Isenberg, a professor of culture and media at The New School, certain technical innovations also changed the way films were watched in Germany during this period. “In the early 1930s, thanks largely to the advent of sound (which came quite late to Germany), films tended to take advantage of recorded dialogue and elaborate musical scores. Berlin was known for its majestic picture palaces, with more than a thousand seats and ornate interiors, but in Germany’s smaller cities, audiences watched the films in mid-sized theaters, less...

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The Water Management Crisis of the Teesta River

Posted by on Jul 5, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

The Water Management Crisis of the Teesta River

Spread the News:ShareA reduction in the Teesta River’s water flow during the non-monsoon months has impacted water levels available for irrigation, leading to ongoing disputes between Bangladesh and India. The tension between Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Chief Minister of the Indian state of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, has led to an impasse in a water sharing agreement between the two countries, leaving both at risk as the water crisis grows. India and Bangladesh face the challenge of sharing a river, an issue which is exacerbated by glacial retreat. The Teesta River begins in the high mountains of India and flows down to lowland areas of India and Bangladesh. The Teesta supplies one-sixteenth of the water needed by India and Bangladesh for agriculture during the dry season, which runs from February to May. Due to its geography, India has been able to build dams to control or limit water flow to Bangladesh, but not vice versa. Both countries have sought an equitable division of Teesta waters in the past. In 1983, for example, a water sharing agreement was reached, dividing access to the water roughly equally by giving India 39 percent and Bangladesh 36 percent, with the remaining 25 percent unallocated. However, out of fear of water loss in the northern region of the country, the West Bengal government did not approve the treaty, and the agreement was not implemented. Since then, agreements over the Teesta have been unsuccessful. In 2010, a new agreement was drafted to grant both India and Bangladesh 40 percent of water flow at Gazaldoba Barrage in West Bengal, with the remaining 20 percent for environmental flow, a system for managing water flow below a dam to sustain freshwater, aquatic ecosystems and human livelihoods. However, the state government of West Bengal later opposed the negotiation. Ideally, a treaty between the two countries would ensure water flow during the dry season, secure water for the rest of the year in the river basin, and prevent floods and river erosion during monsoons. The Teesta normally overflows 300,000 cusecs (cubic meters per second) during monsoons, but lately the river has been exceeding 450,000 cusecs, resulting in river erosion. By 2030, Bangladesh’s water demand is expected to exceed available water supply by 21 percent in the dry season. The Teesta Barrage Project, one of the largest irrigation projects in eastern India, was designed as a network of barrages and canals in six northern districts of West Bengal intended for irrigation, hydropower generation, navigation, and flood control. During dry seasons, barrages, which are broad, low dams that use large gates to control and divert water, are meant to hold back water, but they do not contain a water reservoir facility. Only certain parts of the project have been completed, including the Teesta barrage at Galzaldoba in West Bengal, which lies 90 kilometers upstream of the Indo-Bangladesh border at Gazaldoba. Bangladesh contests that the Gazaldoba barrage, upstream of Dalia, has reduced water availability during the dry season. After the construction of these dams, large pools of stagnant water formed just upstream of the Teesta Low Dam Project, while downstream there was no water in the riverbed. These man-made hydraulic structures, dams and barrages are meant to impact the water flow and the timing of water release. Unfortunately, poor water management in India and Bangladesh has led authorities to release water at the wrong time since the barrages do not have a water reservoir facility, thereby releasing monsoon water rather than keeping it for dry seasons. Control of the water flow through the Gazoldoba Barrage in India has resulted in...

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Call for Papers: Special Journal Issue on Mountain Cryosphere

Posted by on Jul 4, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Science | 0 comments

Call for Papers: Special Journal Issue on Mountain Cryosphere

Spread the News:Share CALL FOR PAPERS: SPECIAL ISSUE ON “IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON THE HIGH-MOUNTAIN CRYOSPHERE AND ASSOCIATED RESPONSES” The special issue, with guest co-editors Carolina Adler (MRI), Christian Huggel (University of Zurich), Anne Nolin (Oregon State University) and Ben Orlove (Columbia University), will be published in the journal Regional Environmental Change (REC), focusing on the impacts of climate change on the high-mountain cryosphere and downstream regions as well as response to these impacts. Through this special issue, we seek to highlight contributions from the mountain research community in providing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) assessment process with state-of-the-art knowledge and evidence for impacts and adaptation in mountain regions. For this reason, we strongly encourage the mountain research community to make their research known and accessible for this assessment process via this special issue. Paper proposals, as extended abstracts, are to be submitted to the guest editors by 1 August 2017. Selection of Manuscripts In order to assess suitability and relevance of manuscripts as contributions for the special issue, we first request proposals as extended abstracts. The extended abstract should include a tentative manuscript title, an author list with contact information, rationale of the paper in the context of the SROCC Chapter 2 “High Mountains Areas,” key sub-areas to be covered, key disciplinary/inter-disciplinary/trans-disciplinary domains and/or literature to be reviewed and assessed, and provisional key conclusions. The extended abstract should not exceed 1 page and is to be submitted to the guest editors via email at REC-Special-Issue@giub.unibe.ch by 1 August 2017 (midnight CET). A response on selected manuscripts will be communicated by 31 August 2017, with instructions for next steps. Process The review process will be facilitated through the REC review website. A minimum of two external reviews will be solicited per manuscript. Authors submitting papers to the special issue also agree to serve as a reviewer for one or two other papers assigned to the special issue (in compliance with the formal requirements posed by the journal), and submit these within the timeframe specified. Types of manuscripts For this special issue, preference will be given to review and synthesis papers (Review Articles, up to 8000 words) on the issues listed under “examples of paper topics,” however original research articles (typically up to 12 printed pages) that document single and/or adopt a comparative case study research approach, may also be considered if they are sufficiently relevant in the context of the IPCC SROCC. We particularly welcome inter- and trans-disciplinary papers that also seek to integrate the natural and social sciences. Timing Given the strict and short time frame for literature to be assessed in the IPCC SROCC, we expect the publication schedule to be fast-tracked in view of the foreseen cut-off date for accepted papers for the SROCC (October 2018, subject to confirmation). In this context, extensions to deadlines cannot be granted. Deadlines Due date for extended abstracts (paper proposals) 1 August 2017 Response on selected paper proposals 31 August 2017 Final manuscripts due 31 December 2017 Comments back to authors 31 March 2018 Final, revised papers due 31 August 2018 Publication (continuous online publishing) October 2018   Examples of potential paper topics particularly welcomed by the co-editors, in light of some of the key foci listed for Chapter 2 of SROCC, include: Effects of a changing mountain cryosphere on natural hazards and management options for protecting lives, livelihoods, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Impacts from changes in the mountain environment, including low latitudes (e.g. Himalayas, Andes, Africa) on habitability, community livelihoods and culture. Risks for societies that depend on mountain cryosphere for water resources (e.g. human consumption, ecosystems and agriculture), including...

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Roundup: The Godfather of Modern Ecology and China

Posted by on Jul 3, 2017 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

Roundup: The Godfather of Modern Ecology and China

Spread the News:ShareA Hundred Years of Data From National Geographic: “It’s not often an ecologist gets to play sleuth in so adventurous a fashion— picking through musty papers in the Midwest for 100-year-old hand-drawn maps that lead through dense Alaskan underbrush populated by wolves and brown bears. But that’s how scientist Brian Buma tracked down the work of a legend— a godfather of modern ecology so prominent in his field that the Ecological Society of America has an award named after him.” Read more about Buma’s trekking and his findings here.     All Not Quiet on the Western Front From the BBC: “China has accused India of incursion into its territory between Sikkim and Tibet, in a dispute which has raised tensions between the countries. Officials said Indian border guards had obstructed “normal activities” on the Chinese side, and called on India to immediately withdraw them. India also recently accused Chinese troops of incursion on its side.” Read more about this geopolitical hotspot here.   On the Tibetan Plateau… From the Chinese Academy of Sciences: “China on Saturday began its second scientific expedition to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to study changes in climate, biodiversity and environment over the past decades. The expedition will last five to 10 years and the first stop will be Serling Tso, a 2,391-square-kilometer lake that was confirmed to have replaced the Buddhist holy lake Namtso as Tibet’s largest in 2014.” Read more about the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ upcoming research project here. Spread the...

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Photo Friday: A Visit to Volcano Museums in Iceland

Posted by on Jun 30, 2017 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: A Visit to Volcano Museums in Iceland

Spread the News:ShareLike millions of other travelers, Gísli Pálsson found that his travel plans were stymied by the 2010 eruption of Iceland’s glacier-covered Mt. Eyjafjallajökull, which canceled transatlantic flights and generated a glacial meltwater flood. As a professor of anthropology at the University of Iceland, Pálsson responded to the inconvenience in a creative way– by starting a project called Volcanologues, in which he and others affected by the eruption share their stories. As part of Volcanologues, Pálsson recently visited two museums that opened after the eruption: the Lava Center at Hvolsvöllur, and the other on a farm named Þorvaldseyri, as part of the “Eyjafjallajökull Erupts” tour. Check out his pictures, read this piece he wrote for GlacierHub, and start dreaming up your own visit to learn more about this historic eruption. Watch footage of the glacial flood caused by Mt. Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption:         Spread the...

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Historic Glacier National Park Murals Restored

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

Historic Glacier National Park Murals Restored

Spread the News:ShareChange is a constant theme in the dialogue surrounding Glacier National Park in Montana. Glaciers are retreating rapidly, reducing streamflow and threatening flora and fauna. Sometimes, however, change comes with renewal. One striking case is the recent restoration of a set of murals from the historic Glacier Lodge. Railroad tycoon Louis Hill, president of the Great Northern Railway in the early 20th century, deeply appreciated the beauty of the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains in northwestern Montana and sensed the financial opportunities the area offered. He pushed for it to become a national park and hoped to bring visitors by train to the new attraction. In 1910, President William Howard Taft signed a bill creating Glacier National Park, and Hill finished construction on the lodge in 1912. To add grandeur to the main lobby, a multi-story space lined by 40-foot fir pillars, he commissioned 51 murals depicting the new park’s landscapes and glaciers. When the lodge was remodeled in the 1950s, a few of the murals were left up, but most were thrown away. Local grocery store owners Robert and Leona Brown of East Glacier saved 15 of the murals, storing them in their garage, where they were discovered by their granddaughter Leanne Goldhahn in 2000, after the Browns had passed away. Leanne and her husband Alan donated the murals to the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell, Montana. Donations to the museum supported the murals’ restoration, which the Missoulian reported cost between $3,000 and $5,000 per painting. Ethan McCauley, a Boy Scout from Polson, Montana, took the project on and raised $10,000 in under a year to help pay the restoration costs. The museum is still collecting funds to restore the remaining murals. The murals offer visitors not only simple beauty, but an opportunity to connect with the Glacier landscape, across both space and time. This is especially true for the painted vistas that visitors can see today by driving or taking a short hike, according to Tracy Johnson, executive director of the Hockaday. “People will come to the museum after a weekend in the park and say, ‘I was at that lake, I saw that waterfall,’” she said in an interview with GlacierHub. But just as apparent is how the landscape is different than when the vistas were painted. “By looking at the murals you can also see what’s changed—glaciers that have receded, a new lodge that was built. The murals are a documentation of that space. We can compare and see that the lake level dropped a bit, or rose,” Johnson said. Connection to the natural and cultural history of these landscapes may be important to the park’s future, says Lisa McKeon, who works to document glaciers in Glacier National Park with The Repeat Photography Project. “Helping visitors make the connections across the landscape is where the stepping stone of understanding glacier loss leads to a greater understanding of the whole system. Having a deeper sense of the place, visitors become engaged on a level that has more meaning, and perhaps creates a lasting impression that translates in to some kind of action,” she told GlacierHub. Three of the fully restored murals are on display at the Hockaday, two are on loan to the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish, and another is being displayed at the courthouse in Polson. This generosity is appreciated by the communities playing host to the murals, and Johnson reported that visitors from these towns often thank the museum for sharing the murals with them. These murals— in effect, historical documents of a visual nature— have profoundly affected out-of-state visitors...

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