Posts Tagged "antarctica"

Photo Friday: The Glaciers of Antarctica

Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo Friday: The Glaciers of Antarctica

Spread the News:ShareAntarctica, the world’s southernmost continent, is a hostile realm of ice and snow, fictionalized in our popular culture by the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and further romanticized by real-world scientific explorers eager to lay claim to the region. Humans who venture to the southernmost pole do so by way of the Antarctic Peninsula, where they may visit Port Lockroy, site of a former British research station, or take in by cruise the vast terrain and wildlife of the region. Multiple countries also operate scientific camps and research programs in more remote locales of Antarctica where science teams study awe-inspiring glaciers and ice sheets throughout the year. The largest ice sheet in the world, Antarctica is composed of around 98% continental ice and 2% barren rock. The ancient ice is incredibly thick, although it has been thinning due to the effects of climate change. Several nations have made overlapping claims to the Antarctic continent. The Antarctic Treaty, signed in Washington in 1959, attempts to maintain peace, by neither denying or providing recognition to these territorial claims. Today, a total of 53 countries have signed the treaty, including Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom, countries that have all made specific claims in the region. The United States and Russia, meanwhile, have maintained a “basis of claim” in the region. Scientists of these nations conduct field research from Antarctica bases to gather greater knowledge about climatic changes affecting the larger world. Studying glaciers in Antarctica is of great impact due to the influence of melting glaciers on global sea levels. In addition, Antarctica plays a primary role in the world’s climate. According to Antarcticglaciers.org, “Cold water is formed in Antarctica. Because freshwater ice at the surface freezes onto icebergs, this water is not only cold, it is salty. This cold, dense, salty water sinks to the sea floor, and drives the global ocean currents, being replaced with warmer surface waters from the equatorial regions.” Ice sheets in Antarctica are fragile and a number have recently collapsed, causing glacial thinning and threatening a rise in sea levels. Some scientists are concerned that the collapsing ice sheets may not be just a natural occurrence but one more closely linked to a warming planet. The Pine Island Glacier is one of the “fastest receding glaciers in the Antarctic” and a major contributor to our rising sea levels, according to the U.S. Antarctic Program. Scientists have observed an ice shelf on the Pine Island Glacier that is rapidly thinning, pushing the glacier toward the sea. A team of scientists constructed a field camp in 2012-2013 to study the impacts of climate change on the glacier, also known as PIG. The PIG field camp staff learned to contend with adverse weather conditions in the area and events like windstorms, a common occurrence in this remote and hostile part of the world. Helicopters provide support to field projects such as the one conducted in 2012-2013 at the Pine Island Glacier. Elsewhere in Antarctica is the McMurdo Dry Valleys, the largest ice-free area in the region—approximately 15,000-square-kilometers— where science teams perform research projects on glaciers, lakes, and soils, funded by the National Science Foundation. The area is an extreme landscape, but it can also be a useful environment for scientists hoping to study the impacts of climate change. In Antarctica, teams of scientists can extract old ice flowing from the ends of glaciers in large quantities rather than by drilling directly into the ancient ice sheet. Around 350 kilograms of ice is then melted into a vacuum-sealed container to capture around 35...

Read More

Roundup: Antarctica and Greenland in peril, black carbon

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup, Science, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Roundup: Antarctica and Greenland in peril, black carbon

Spread the News:ShareNinety percent of the western Antarctic Peninsula’s glaciers are retreating From Carbon Brief: “These rivers of ice ooze their way down through the Peninsula’s rocky mountain range and into the ocean, powered by gravity and their own weight. But of the 674 glaciers on the Peninsula’s western side, almost 90% are retreating. This happens when their ice melts faster than new snowfall can replenish it. “The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming regions on Earth. Temperatures have risen by more than 3C over the past 50 years. The warming atmosphere has caused some remarkable changes to the eastern side of the Peninsula. The Larsen ice shelf, a floating sheet of ice formed from glaciers spilling out onto the cold ocean, has lost two of its four sections in recent decades.” Learn more about the Antarctic Peninsula’s glaciers and effects on the ocean here.   Greenland lost a mind-blowing 1 trillion tons of ice in under four years From Washington Post: “It’s the latest story in a long series of increasingly worrisome studies on ice loss in Greenland. Research already suggests that the ice sheet has lost at least 9 trillion tons of ice in the past century and that the rate of loss has increased over time. Climate scientists are keeping a close eye on the region because of its potentially huge contributions to future sea-level rise (around 20 feet if the whole thing were to melt) — not to mention the damage it’s already done. Ice loss from Greenland may have contributed as much as a full inch of sea-level rise in the last 100 years and up to 10 percent of all the sea-level rise that’s been documented since the 1990s. “Overall, the ice loss was particularly prevalent in the southwest, but the scientists noted that there were also losses observed in the cooler, northern parts of the ice sheet. Notably, the researchers also found that a solid 12 percent of all the ice loss came from just a handful of glaciers composing less than 1 percent of the ice sheet’s total area.” Read more here.   Understanding black carbon impact on glaciers From International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD): “In April 2016 and team of glaciologists and experts from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development’s (ICIMOD) and partner organisations — Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Utrecht University, Kathmandu University (KU),Tribhuvan University (TU), Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVI) went to Langtang for a field visit. “‘The elevation of Yala Glacier is higher compared to those in Pakistan. Gulkin Glacier, in Pakistan, starts from 2700 to 4000 m, so there was almost no snow on the glacier in this season. Only towards the top of the glacier at around 4000m AMSL snow was present. The rest of the glacier was mostly debris’, Chaman said. Sachin Glacier, at 3200- 4000m AMSL, is different to Yala and Gulkin, and samples collected from this glacier represent semi-aged or aged-snow. ‘There was fresh snow on the night of collection so the samples were very fresh’  Chaman said of Langtang. He expects to see large variability in black carbon concentrations in the samples, contributing to effect of elevation, geographical location, glacier type, age and fresh samples.” Learn more here.   Spread the...

Read More

Intimacy and Expertise: A Conversation with Antarctic Anthropologist Jessica O’Reilly

Posted by on Jun 15, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Interviews, Science | 0 comments

Intimacy and Expertise: A Conversation with Antarctic Anthropologist Jessica O’Reilly

Spread the News:ShareWhen most people think about Antarctica, they do not think about people.  That is not the case for Jessica O’Reilly, assistant professor of international studies at Indiana University.  In her April 2016 paper, “Sensing the ice: field science, models, and expert intimacy with knowledge,” published in theJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, O’Reilly explores the life of Antarctic scientists and their intimate knowledge of their frozen world. With years of experience and deep contact with their subject matters, experts of the most southern continent develop an understanding that allows the scientific community to most accurately answer pressing questions, even when lacking complete scientific data.  In her paper, O’Reilly explores a common tool called expert elicitation used to garner this educated opinion.  This method is often used in the assessment of glacier melting and assessment reports on climte change. In an interview with GlacierHub, O’Reilly discusses her adventure to the Antarctic and her findings on the deep connection field scientists and modelers have with Antarctica.  A condensed and edited version of the conversation follows.   GlacierHub: Your recent paper discusses the intuitive understanding a scientist develops when working closely with a subject.  In your article’s case, the subject is the Antarctic ice sheet. Can you walk me through the phases of your research? JOR: In 2004, I began participant observation with Antarctic scientists and policy makers.  Then in 2005 and 2006 I lived in New Zealand, where I worked with Antarctic scientists and policy makers and went on an Antarctic expedition in December of 2005 to do my dissertation project. I tried to understand how and why Antarctic scientists do what they do.  My main question was how that [their behavior] affects environmental management and policy.  I followed that up with a second project, which was archival research on what scientist believe will happen to the West Antarctic ice sheet and how those projections have changed over time. In this paper, I looked back at both of these projects and instead of directly studying how the scientists do their research, I tried to understand how the folk tales or legends they spun about their experiences on the ice, or with their data, may affect their perception of the ice sheet.   GH: The word intimacy is very powerful.  Can you explain further how someone can have an intimate relationship with an inanimate object like ice? JOR: I’m thinking about intimacy as knowing something well, through a long and deep relationship. In the article, I suggest that expert knowledge emerges through these long-term encounters with their field sites and their objects of encounter. This builds from Hugh Raffles’ work on “Intimate Knowledge,” that he published in 2002.   GH: Can you define the term, “expert elicitation,” and discuss its connection to environmental policy? JOR: Expert elicitation is a formalization of this idea that scientific judgment is highly valued.  It is a… research method where social scientists will send out surveys or gather specialists to give their thoughts about something that is very uncertain, such as predictions about the collapse of the ice sheet.  At the time of expert elicitation there is typically high uncertainty in the data either from the models or field observations about what may happen.  However, there are experts who have living knowledge based on all the time they have spent on the glacier or with their models – or both.   GH: Why do you think it’s important to bring social research, such as expert elicitation, into scientific analysis? JOR: A good reason to utilize it is to fill [data] gaps in scientific assessments like the...

Read More

Roundup: Glacial Melt, Photos, and Disasters

Posted by on May 30, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Glacial Melt, Photos, and Disasters

Spread the News:ShareEach week, we highlight three stories from the forefront of glacier news. The Climate Post: Melting of Totten Glacier Could Trigger 6 Foot Sea-Level Rise From Huffpost Green: “A new study published in the journal Nature is drawing attention to the effect of warming water on the world’s largest ice mass, Totten Glacier in East Antarctica. Melting of the glacier, which has an ice catchment area bigger than California, could lift oceans at least two meters (6.56 feet). According to researchers who mapped the shape of the ice sheet as well as the thickness of rocks and sediments beneath it to examine the historical characteristic of erosion of Totten’s advances and retreats, unabated climate change could cause the glacier to enter an irreversible and rapid retreat within the next century.” Find out about Totten Glacier’s “tipping point.”   Spectacular view of fjord and glacier from NASA’s IceBridge From Zee Media Bureau: “New Delhi: NASA’s IceBridge, an airborne survey of polar ice, recently captured this stunning view of fjord of Violin Glacier, with Nord Glacier at the upper left corner.  IceBridge took this image on May 16, 2016 as the aircraft crossed Greenland to fly central glacier flowlines in the east-central region of the country. This year marks IceBridge’s eighth spring campaign of science flights over Arctic sea and land.” Learn more about NASA’s IceBridge campaign here.   Report Warns of Climate Change Disasters That Rival Hollywood’s From the New York Times: “Stonehenge eroding under the forces of extreme weather. Venice slowly collapsing into its canals. The Statue of Liberty. gradually flooding. Images like these, familiar from Hollywood climate-catastrophe thrillers, were evoked by a joint report, released on Thursday by Unesco, the United Nations Environment Program and the Union of Concerned Scientists, that detailed the threat climate change could pose to World Heritage sites on five continents.” To learn more about the potential impact of glacial melt induced-sea level rise on some of the world’s most iconic heritage sites, click here. Spread the...

Read More

Zaria Forman’s Quest to Capture Ice as Art Before It’s Gone

Posted by on Mar 1, 2016 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images, Interviews | 0 comments

Zaria Forman’s Quest to Capture Ice as Art Before It’s Gone

Spread the News:ShareZaria Forman is taking pastel drawings to a whole new level by creating photo-realist drawings of areas susceptible to climate change. She believes that artists have a special responsibility to showcase the effects of our changing climate, and has dedicated her work to doing just that. Her paintings capture lighting and depth so convincingly that a viewer cannot help but feel an overwhelming connection to these faraway places. While some of her work focuses on glaciers, she also captures the beauty of Hawaii, Israel, and the Maldives–areas affected by sea-level rise. Her work can be seen in exhibits around the world, including the upcoming Pulse Fair in NYC in March and the Seattle Art Fair in August. Her next solo exhibit will be at Winston Wächter Fine Art’s Seattle location, in February and March of 2017. Forman, with inspiration from her late mother’s photography and her childhood travels, melds her personal and artistic sides mesmerizingly into her drawings. She hopes the innate beauty of the areas she captures will compel her audience to act to slow the loss she is documenting. Her work allows us to step back from the science of climate change and experience the loss, and the beauty, of these iconic and critical regions on a more human scale. GH: What are you trying to communicate with your artwork? ZF: I hope my drawings can facilitate a deeper understanding of the climate crisis, helping us find meaning and optimism in shifting landscapes. One of the many gifts my mother gave me was the ability to focus on the positive, rather than dwell in the negative. I hope my drawings serve as records of landscapes in flux, documenting the transition, and inspiring our global community to take action for the future. GH: What role does art play in the conversation about climate change? ZF: Artists play a critical role in communicating climate change, which is arguably the most important challenge we face as a global community. I have dedicated my career to translating and illuminating scientists’ warnings and statistics with an accessible medium, one that moves us in a way that statistics may not.  Neuroscience tells us that humans take action and make decisions based on emotion above all else. Studies have shown that art can impact our emotions more effectively than a scary news report. My drawings explore moments of transition, turbulence, and tranquility in the landscape, allowing viewers to emotionally connect with a place they may never have the chance to visit. I choose to convey the beauty as opposed to the devastation of threatened places. If people can experience the sublimity of these landscapes, perhaps they will be inspired to protect and preserve them.   GH: What in your life has inspired this coupling of the arts and climate? ZF: The inspiration for my drawings began in my early childhood when I traveled with my family throughout several of the world’s most remote landscapes, which became the subject of my mother’s fine art photography. I developed an appreciation for the beauty and vastness of the ever-changing sky and sea. I loved watching a far-off storm on the western desert plains; the monsoon rains of southern India; and the cold arctic light illuminating Greenland’s waters. I have very fond memories of our family trips and consider them a vital part of my upbringing and education. I feel very fortunate that I had the opportunity to see so much of the world, and to learn first-hand about cultures so vastly different from my own. This myriad of experiences instilled in me a love and need...

Read More