Uncategorized

Roundup: Ice Filing, Seas Falling, Rivers Flooding

Posted by on Sep 12, 2016 in Experiences, Featured Posts, Roundup, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Roundup: Ice Filing, Seas Falling, Rivers Flooding

Spread the News:ShareThis Week’s Roundup: Glaciers are being collected in Antarctica, “quietly transforming the Earth’s surface” and causing floods A team of scientists, aware of the need to obtain ice cores from threatened glaciers, are working to create a glacier archive bank in Antarctica From CNRS News:  “By capturing various components of the atmosphere, ice constitutes an invaluable source of information with which to examine our past environment, to analyze climate change, and, above all, to understand our future. Today, the science of ice cores lets us study dozens of chemical components trapped in ice, such as gases, acids, heavy metals, radioactivity, and water isotopes, to name but a few…” “We plan to store the boxes in containers at a depth of 10 meters below the surface in order to maintain the glacier cores at an ambient temperature of – 54°C. The Antarctic is in fact an immense freezer with an ice sheet up to 4 kilometers thick, and is far removed from everything; in addition, it is not subject to any territorial disputes. The subterranean chamber will be large enough to house samples taken from between 15 and 20 glaciers.” Read on here.  Study finds that ancient melting glaciers are causing sea levels to drop in some places From Smithsonian Magazine: “But a new study out in the Journal of Geophysical Research shows that in places like Juneau, Alaska, the opposite is happening: sea levels are dropping about half an inch every year. How could this be? The answer lies in a phenomenon of melting glaciers and seesawing weight across the earth called ‘glacial isostatic adjustment.’ You may not know it, but the Last Ice Age is still quietly transforming the Earth’s surface and affecting everything from the length of our days to the topography of our countries.” For the full story, click here. Glacial flood emerges along Iceland’s Skaftá river From Iceland Magazine: “A small glacial flood is under way in Skaftá river in South Iceland. The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) warns travelers to stay away from the edge of the water as the flood water is carrying with it geothermal gases which can be dangerous….The discharge of Skaftá at Sveinstindur is presently 270 cubic metres per second. The flood is not expected to cause any downstream disruption.” Learn more about the flood by reading more here.         Spread the...

Read More

Roundup: Old Tibetan drawings, new photos from land and sea

Posted by on Sep 5, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, Roundup, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Roundup: Old Tibetan drawings, new photos from land and sea

Spread the News:ShareThis Week’s Roundup: A monk’s drawings and photos from land and sea Drawings from the 1850s provide detail on Tibetan history and culture From British Library blogs: “The drawings in the British Library’s Wise Collection probably form the most comprehensive set of large-scale visual representations of mid-nineteenth century Tibet and the Western Himalayan kingdoms of Ladakh and Zangskar. These drawings were made in the late 1850s – at a time when the mapping of British India was largely complete, but before or around the time when Tibet began to be mapped for the first time by Indian Pundits.”  Depicting landscapes, buildings, people and many activities, this collection “reflects a complex interpretation of Tibet commissioned by a Scotsman and created by a Buddhist monk. The result of their collaboration represents a ‘visible history’ of the exploration of Tibet.” Click here to learn more about these striking images and the research on them being conducted by Dr. Diana Lange of Humboldt University, Berlin. Elephant seals document impact of glacier melt on ocean circulation From Nature Communications: “New observations from instrumented elephant seals in 2011–2013 … provide the first complete assessment of the formation of dense water in Prydz Bay off Antarctica.”  Until recent, large flows of this dense water have contributed to the formation of a layer of water,  known as Antarctic bottom water, which contributes to global ocean circulation. This new work documents the importance of ” freshwater input from the Amery Glacier and Amery and West Ice Shelves … and highlights the susceptibility of Antarctic bottom water to increased freshwater input from the enhanced melting of ice shelves, and ultimately the potential collapse of Antarctic bottom water formation in a warming climate.” Click here to read more about the valuable data provided by elephant seals New images depict water conflicts in post-Soviet Central Asia From Foreign Affairs: “The relations of the five former Soviet Republics in Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—are, more often than not, defined by water. ” Tensions have increased “since the dissolution of the Soviet Union over a quarter century ago.” Moreover, “there is one glaring issue: the region’s glaciers, the source of huge and once predictable water supplies, are melting at record rates.” Click here to see the striking images of water use and misuse in Central Asia, and to learn the historical background of water conflicts Spread the...

Read More

Photo Friday: The Cordillera Blanca of Peru

Posted by on Sep 2, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo Friday: The Cordillera Blanca of Peru

Spread the News:ShareI traveled recently to the Cordillera Blanca, the mountain range in Peru with the largest concentration of glaciers in the world’s tropics. The Peruvian National Institute for Research in Glaciers and Mountain Ecosystems, INAIGEM, invited me to participate in a forum, and helped me visit several rural communities. I’ve written other posts about the forum, a visit to a lake with a high risk level for outburst floods, and a trip to a research area in a national park. I include here other images–of people and towns, as well as of mountain landscapes–that didn’t quite fit into the topics of the other posts. I hope that these convey some aspects of daily life in this beautiful region as it undergoes dramatic change. I hope as well that the images convey the deep connections of people to the region. Huascaran with telecom tower in foreground Town of Huaraz Shopkeeper and children in Copa Grande Workers' camp near dam at Lake Palcacocha Tower of church of La Merced, Carhuaz Meadows and forests in Copa Grande Guinea pigs on way to fiesta Palcaraju Glacier Man with two shaved ice cones Spread the...

Read More

Peru Conference Calls for More Work on Climate Change, Disaster Risk

Posted by on Aug 18, 2016 in Adaptation, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Peru Conference Calls for More Work on Climate Change, Disaster Risk

Spread the News:ShareA major international forum this month in Peru has resulted in calls for strengthening research capabilities and for programs in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. It also had demonstrated the need for greater public participation and the development of new financial mechanisms to support these activities. It showed the importance of flexible governance systems that can draw on emerging research and on growing citizen engagement with environmental issues. The scientific forum’s focus on climate change in the mountains took on particular meaning, as it was held in Huaraz, a  a small Peruvian city located at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca, a major glacier-covered range. The forum, held Aug. 10-12, specifically centered on climate change impacts in mountains, with particular emphasis on glacier retreat, water sustainability and biodiversity. A new Peruvian organization, the National Institute of Research on Glaciers and Mountain Ecosystems, known by its Spanish acronym INAIGEM, organized the forum, with support from a number of other organizations. The forum’s more than 1,400 participants came largely from Peru, but also included a substantial number of scientists, policy experts and agency staff from 18 other countries.  They met in Huaraz, attending plenary lectures in the morning and breaking into smaller groups in the afternoon for topical sessions and discussion groups, which considered specific recommendations for action. These recommendations led to two final documents. The forum produced a set of eight conclusions and a final declaration, both presented to the participants, a number of public officials and the media by Benjamin Morales, the president of INAIGEM. Researchers from the natural and social sciences reported  on water availability and natural hazards in the Cordillera Blanca and other mountain ranges. Jeff Kargel of the University of Arizona reported on the connections between earthquakes and glacier lake outburst floods in the Himalayas and the Andes. Bryan Mark of the Ohio State University discussed research methodologies to measure “peak water”—the point at which the contribution of glacier meltwater causes a river’s flow to reach its highest levels, after which the glaciers, smaller in size, contribute less water to the streams.       Several talks traced links between ecosystems and water resources. They showed the importance of wetlands in promoting the recharge of groundwater and in maintaining water quality. The latter role is particularly important, because as glaciers retreat, new areas of rock become exposed to the atmosphere. As these rocks weather, minerals leach into streams. Since these wetlands are important grazing areas for peasant communities, they raise challenging issues of coordination between communities and agencies charged with environmental management.    Many speakers focused specifically on this management, stressing the importance of the coordination of scientists and other experts, policy-makers, and wider society. Carlos Fernandez, of UNESCO, stressed the importance of water governance systems that integrated social, economic and environmental sectors, rather than relying on market-driven approaches. Others examined financial mechanisms, such as the payment for ecosystem services and the expansion of user fees for water and other resources. GlacierHub’s editor Ben Orlove spoke of the cultural importance of glaciers, and of the role of glaciers as symbols of social identity. The forum was sponsored by over two dozen institutions, including Peruvian agencies (Ministry of the Environment, the National Service for Protected Natural Areas, the National Civil Defense Institute, and the National Water Authority), NGOs  (CARE, The Mountain Institute, CONDESAN) and the international aid programs from Switzerland, US and Canada, as well as several mining firms in Peru. The critical role of mountain societies was signaled by a speech from Juan German Espíritu, the president of the peasant community of...

Read More

Walking to the Mountain, Dancing at the Shrines: An Andean Pilgrimage

Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in Art/Culture, Communities, Experiences, Featured Posts, Interviews, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Walking to the Mountain, Dancing at the Shrines: An Andean Pilgrimage

Spread the News:ShareZoila Mendoza, an anthropologist and the chair of the Department of Native American Studies at the University of California, Davis, is also the producer of a documentary recorded in the high Andes of Peru. “The Pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i: The Walk Experience,” first released in February 2015, has won five honors, including a 2016 International Gold Award for Documentary and Short International Movie Awards, held in Jakarta earlier this month. Mendoza’s film provides a detailed view of the largest pilgrimage in the Andes. Each spring, about 50,000 people, many of them indigenous Quechua, travel to the sanctuary of the Señor de Qoyllur Rit’i in the Cusco region of Peru, located at 4,800 meters above sea level at the foot of a glacier. At this site, they perform ritual dances and pay homage to the miraculous image of Christ on a rock and to the mountain itself, the glacier-covered Qollqepunku. Mendoza accompanied villagers from the community of Pomacanchi on three different annual pilgrimages, as they walked the 135 kilometers from their home village to the sanctuary. This journey takes three days and two nights, and leads them over four high passes. Her video shows the continuous music of flute and drums that accompanies the entire pilgrimage, as well as the dances in Pomacanchi, at points on the path to the shrine, and at the shrine itself. The film documents the integration of sounds, sight and movement that together compose the pilgrimage experience. With its close-up view of a group of pilgrims, showing the heavy loads they carry on the journey and the long hours of vigorous dancing, it conveys the depth of their devotion of the pilgrims to the saints and mountains. In an email interview, Mendoza discussed the production of her documentary with GlacierHub. GlacierHub: Though many people who have described the pilgrimage of Qoyllur Rit’i emphasize the importance of dance, you have subtitled your film “The walk experience.” Why do you place such importance on walking? What relations do you see between walking and dancing? Zoila Mendoza: This was a result of my experience with the people of Pomacanchi, for whom doing the walk itself was the most important aspect of the whole pilgrimage. Walking has been the way of travel for Andeans for millennia, the same word is used in Quechua for “walking” and “traveling”: puriy. Even today, with the available motorized vehicles, many Quechua-speaking people in the countryside still spend several hours a day walking to go to their fields, herding their animals, etc. As I argue at length in my articles, the walk to Qoyllur Rit’i is carried out with the incessant music of flute and drum so, even at moments of rest and of introspection, the music is always there. There is a tune for walking and one for worshiping and saluting. The walk has also a choreography since it has to be done in a single file with the icons and flags in front and the music in the back. The whole musical walk can be considered a “dance” to the sanctuary.   GH: Your film depicts other bodily movements in addition to walking and dancing. In particular, you show the importance of two other bodily gestures: carrying heavy items, such as rocks and pottery icons that represent chapels, and kneeling in front of sacred sites or along paths. What do these gestures represent? ZM: The participants use the same gestures to salute and pay homage to the sacred images and to the mountains. Carrying rocks uphill and unloading them is a way to kinesthetically level or flatten the ground (pampachay in...

Read More

Photo Friday: Ice diving in the Alps – Glacial Lake Sassolo

Posted by on Jul 29, 2016 in All Posts, Experiences, Featured Posts, Images, Sports, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Ice diving in the Alps – Glacial Lake Sassolo

Spread the News:ShareFranco Banfi is a professional underwater photographer, renowned for his spectacular images of marine wildlife, captured across every ocean on the planet. In 2010, Banfi, a Swiss national, dived into the Lago di Sassolo (Lake Sassolo) to reveal the hidden wonders of the ice mazes which form in the glacial lake at 6,560 feet (2,000 m) above sea level, in the European Alps. Ice diving is highly technical, and is complicated when undertaken at altitude. Banfi has been diving for 35 years, and has “around 100 dives under the ice,” experience gained through his pursuit of the perfect image of rarely seen species. In 2005, Banfi chased Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) in the Arctic Circle, and leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) in the Antarctic Ocean. Banfi wound his way through the sub- and englacial pathways of the ice, in temperatures around 35.6-37.4°F (2-3°C). He remarked, “It can be dangerous if you don’t know the place and if you don’t have experience in an ice environment.” However, Banfi was raised in Cadro, Switzerland, and grew up diving Lago di Lugano (Lugano Lake). Reflecting on the dangers of his dive at Sassolo, Banfi said “It gets quite dark depending on how much ice there is above your head at the surface – so in some places with thicker ice it gets dangerously dark.” He added, “Ice like this can collapse anytime,” as the exhaled bubbles alter the buoyancy of the overlaying ice. According to the seasoned diver, his underwater model and dive partner Sabrina Belloni joined him on the journey through the icey labyrinth, but was hesitant, awaiting terrifying signs of an imminent failure of the thick ice. “You can usually hear the crack, but not always,” said Banfi. “If you hear this, it’s already too late.” Spread the...

Read More