Posts Tagged "alaska"

Roundup: Studying and Dancing to Melting Glaciers

Posted by on Aug 1, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Studying and Dancing to Melting Glaciers

Spread the News:ShareDancing to the tune of a melting glacier: CoMotion tackles climate change From Missoulian:    “If someone suggested you watch artists perform an hour-long dance about climate change, you might shoot them your best ‘have-you-lost-your-mind’ look. But your curiosity level might be raised, too. When Karen Kaufmann’s phone rang in February 2015 and the caller asked her about putting together just such a production, her reaction, although certainly not the same, at least followed a similar arc. ‘I grappled with it,’ says Kaufmann, artistic director at the University of Montana’s CoMotion Dance Project. ‘The topic overwhelmed me. It was not immediately intuitive how one would go about choreographing climate change.'” Read more about CoMotion’s production of “Changing Balance/Balancing Change” here. Visitors To A Shrinking Alaskan Glacier Get A Lesson On Climate Change From NPR:  “John Neary, director of the visitor center for [Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska], wants the more than 500,000 people who visit the Mendenhall Glacier each year to know that it’s rapidly retreating due to climate change. ‘It became our central topic really just in the last few years,’ Neary says.” Read about Neary’s programming efforts to teach visitors about the effects of climate change here.   The Tiny World of Glacier Microbes Has an Outsized Impact on Global Climate From Smithsonian:  “The ability to tinker with our planet’s climate isn’t isolated to Arctic puddles. Microbes within these small pools, and nestled in lakebed sediments buried miles beneath the Antarctic ice sheet, could harbor the ability to seriously alter the global carbon cycle, as well as the climate. And researchers have only recently begun to navigate these minuscule worlds[….] Scientists once thought these holes were devoid of life. But researchers are now finding that they actually contain complex ecosystems of microbes like bacteria, algae and viruses.” Read more about a researcher’s three-week efforts to monitor the ability of puddles and the life contained in them to manipulate Earth’s climate here. Spread the...

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Survival is just the tip of the iceberg in Blair Braverman’s memoir on Arctic life

Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Experiences, Featured Posts | 0 comments

Survival is just the tip of the iceberg in Blair Braverman’s memoir on Arctic life

Spread the News:Share“On a bad day we called it the Goddamn Ice Cube. On a good day Summer Camp on the Moon.”   In her memoir published July 5, writer and musher Blair Braverman recounts her time living in the isolated wilderness of the Arctic, and her struggles to reconcile the many contradictions—both real and perceived—that accompanied her journey. Over the course of its 274 pages, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North provides an honest and eloquent narrative of Braverman’s personal pursuit to create a home in the fjords of Norway and glaciers of Southeastern Alaska. While Braverman’s experiences in the north were not always positive, she persistently returns to the Arctic to overcome her fears and self-doubts–seeking safety in extreme environments and confronting her status as an outsider in a “man’s world.” Her Arctic roots trace back to a young age. Braverman spent a year in Oslo when she was 10-years-old and continuously returned, feeling connected to the country in a way that she never felt in her hometown of Davis, California. A year as a high school foreign exchange student in Norway helped her reestablish her connection. But a host father who made her feel unsafe also made her time there difficult. Braverman was insecure, but not defeated. As testament to her personal strength and character, she pushed herself to return to Norway and struggle through the extreme physical and mental challenges of survival training and dog sledding in the Arctic at the Norwegian Folk School 69°North. “I knew I would never be a tough girl,” she writes in the memoir. “And yet the phrase, with its implied contradiction, articulated everything that I wanted for myself: to be a girl, an inherently vulnerable position, and yet unafraid.” In the far reaches of the North, there were many things to fear—the biting cold, the seemingly unending darkness of winter, being buried alive under the snow. However, Braverman approached these physical challenges head-on throughout her time at 69°North and in the years to follow. “Of course I was scared. But at least I was scared of dangers of my own choosing. At least there was joy that came with it.” There were other equally pressing physical and emotional dangers that Braverman faced, one of which is not exclusive to the Arctic: the danger of men threatening her safety and encroaching on her body. In the eyes of the men Braverman encountered, the Arctic was seen as exclusively male territory. Despite the intimidation, harassment, and dismissal by men, Braverman was determined to have an equal right to also call the Arctic “home.” After completing her survival training at the folk school, Braverman left Norway to work at a summer tour company on a glacier in southeast Alaska. Living on a remote glacier with an aggressive boyfriend, the irony of her job cannot be lost—providing a comfortable experience for tourists to be “explorers” out in the wilderness, when the reality of living in such an environment is anything but comfortable. She writes in the book that she was also “discouraged from acknowledging climate change, even as the glacier melted away beneath us.” While the majority of people may prefer to sweep difficult truths under the rug, Braverman is admirable for her desire to seek it out, regardless of convenience. While Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube is, to a large degree, a story of emotional and physical struggle, it is also one of deep admiration for nature and the Arctic. Braverman’s love of the environment is contagious and brought to life through her vivid...

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Photo Friday: Alaska’s Matanuska Glacier

Posted by on Jul 1, 2016 in All Posts, Experiences, Featured Posts, Images, Interviews | 1 comment

Photo Friday: Alaska’s Matanuska Glacier

Spread the News:ShareIt started with a road trip. A “bucket-list trip,” according to Tish  Millard, a photographer from Prince Rupert, Canada. Millard and her husband decided to drive the over 4,660 miles there-and-back, along the the Alaskan and Dalton highways to “dance in the Midnight Sun,” as she puts it. They passed through Fairbanks, Anchorage, Valdez, Wasilla, and crossing into the Arctic Circle, before arriving at Matanuska. Speaking to GlacierHub, Millard said that her passion for glaciers came from her time in the unique town of Stewart-Hyder, and visits to the nearby Salmon Glacier. Remarkably, is the only land border crossing where a person may legally enter the United States without reporting for inspection, as the settlement spans the American-Canadian border. Matanuska is 27 miles long, and over 4 miles wide – making it the largest glacier in America that can be reached by vehicle. Remarking on her first reactions upon arriving at the terminus of Matanuska, Millard said she was “transfixed by the glacier’s beauty.” But it was the creaks, cracks, rumblings, and groans coming from the glacier which made their greatest impression – “The noises it made were mystical.” To top off the “unforgettable experience,” Matanuska was the first glacier Millard had ever walked on – she described it as “surreal.” The surface of the glacier is a beautiful pale blue, mantled by snow and streaks of black soot – detritus blown across the state from wildfires. It is heavily crevassed, which can make certain traverses challenging and dangerous. Deeper into the glacier, climbers from Anchorage regularly clamber up hundreds of feet of jagged pinnacles of ice. Three-and-a-half trillion tons of water have melted from Alaska’s glaciers since the 1950s, according the USGS. And they are unlikely to recover this year, as Spring temperatures averaged a sweltering 89.6°F – warmer than Washington D.C. Jake Weltzin, a phenologist with the USGS, commented that this year has “turned the state into a melting pot, almost literally.” Historically, the Matanuska has been little affected by rising temperatures over the past 30 years, and consistently advances approximately one foot each day. However, with consistent record-breaking temperatures, early onset of the melt season, and lowering surface albedo thanks to the deposited wildfire debris, the this may be the year that significant retreat begins. Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Fieldwork on Gulkana Glacier

Posted by on May 27, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Fieldwork on Gulkana Glacier

Spread the News:ShareThe U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been collecting mass balance data on Gulkana Glacier ever since 1966. Gulkana Glacier is one of USGS’s two “benchmark” glaciers in Alaska, for which it has been patiently gathering data on an annual basis for the last fifty years. The glacier, looming 1300 meters in elevation, is located along the south flank of the eastern Alaska Range. This Friday, enjoy photos of USGS’s fieldwork on Gulkana, including stunning photos of the glacier itself, the Northern Lights, and a lunar eclipse. Pinnacles near Mt. Gakona "Pinnacles near Mt. Gakona, April 2014" Lunar Eclipse "Lunar eclipse over Icefall Peak, April 2014" Northern Lights in Alaska "Northern Lights over the cabin, April 2014" Gulkana Glacier "Northern Lights over our camp, April 2015" Gulkana Glacier "Headed down glacier on a snowy afternoon, April 2015" "Driving the radar system across the upper glacier, April 2014"   Many thanks to Louis Sass of USGS for providing photos of USGS’s fieldwork. View more photos of Gulkana Glacier on USGS’s website.   Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Katie Craney’s Artwork from Alaska

Posted by on Apr 15, 2016 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images | 2 comments

Photo Friday: Katie Craney’s Artwork from Alaska

Spread the News:ShareThe artist Katie Craney has been fascinated with the role of plankton in our everyday lives. People in southeast Alaska, where she lives, and people around the world rely on it for oxygen, for marine food supply, and for livelihoods. In her home region in Alaska, she learned of the close connections that link plankton with ice melt, glacier runoff, and salmon; all that define life in Southeast Alaska. She recently wrote The Air We Breathe for Artists and Climate Change. Her art is a response to the imminent transformation and vulnerability of the north. Within any given fragment of land or water there are ethereal processes at work that support the northern world she calls home. Human-caused climate change is rapidly altering the structure of these northern ecological communities to which people have adapted and on which they rely for survival. The images below all show new work that she created for a recent solo show, Melt: A Commentary on Alaska’s Warming Winters at Skipping Stone Studio in Haines, Alaska. These are small, intimate pieces, just a few inches across, inviting close inspection. They draw on a variety of everyday materials: paper, gauze, wax and aluminum leaf, attached to metal or wood. You can see more of her work on her website Deciphering Change. Craney_BedrockSeries Craney_CoastLine Craney_AblationSeries1 Craney_AblationSeries For more information and images, please visit her website. Spread the...

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