Posts Tagged "glaciers"

Cracked: Life as a Musher on Alaskan Glaciers

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in All Posts, Experiences, Featured Posts, Tourism | 0 comments

Cracked: Life as a Musher on Alaskan Glaciers

Spread the News:ShareBlair Braverman had a tough job. For two years, between May and September she lived on a glacier the size of Rhode Island where her role was to give tourists the perfect Alaskan experience. But beneath the facade, life was a challenge. “Nothing was meant to live on the glacier, and the longer I stayed there, the clearer this became,” she wrote in a piece for the Atavist. The landscape was always shifting – some mornings Braverman would wake up and a lake would have formed overnight. By the next day, the lake would be gone. Other days, surface snow would melt away around her tent. Keeping the site, which hosted 200 huskies, nine mushers and other staff, clean was also a challenge. Dog hairs had to be raked off the snow and dog poop picked up as soon as it dropped. Teams would regularly go out and poke holes in the snow, searching for potential crevices that could bring rapid death. Mushers and staff could feel the toll on their bodies. Sunlight reflecting off the snow would burn their nostrils and hurt their eyes. On rainy weeks, Braverman said her skin would peel off in long white strips. Still, Braverman and her colleagues adjusted to the lifestyle, delivering smiles and an abundance  of wonderful memories to tourists. Wonderful, that is, until heavy storms trapped a group of tourists for days on a glacier, a tale Braverman recounted for This American Life. What followed was almost two days of pretending life on a glacier was paradise while keeping the tourists calm. A longer account can be read on the Atavist. Braverman is now working on a book, tentatively called ‘Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube.’  She agreed to talk to GlacierHub about her experiences and her upcoming work. GH: What drew you to working on a glacier? BB: I had spent the previous year learning to dogsled at a Norwegian folk school. Working on the glacier seemed like an adventure, a way to make some money and keep running dogs during the summer months.   GH: Why do you think it is important to share your story? BB: People talk a lot about the sustainability of this kind of glacier-dogsledding operation, but of course, there are several kinds of sustainability. The company went to great lengths to practice Leave No Trace, whether that meant raking dog hair off the snow or covering everything with white tarps so that the camp was less appealing to birds. That’s one kind of sustainability, one that has to do with the health of the glacier. As for the health of all glaciers, and of the planet in general—well, obviously all those helicopter flights have a huge carbon footprint. From a larger environmental perspective, that’s devastating. Although I’ll allow some complication there, too, because the tourists who came up were often so moved by the landscape, and found the experience so powerful, that they left—by their own claim—with a renewed commitment to environmental responsibility. I wrote this story to try to make sense of a third kind of sustainability, which is cultural. What happens when a small group of people live and work together in a remote environment? Why do some people keep coming back, and some feel unable to? How does the experience change if you’re female, or in other ways set apart? What are the possible repercussions of learning to ignore bodily discomfort? I’m interested in how social dynamics play out in extreme landscapes, and this story started, in some sense, as an attempt to answer that question. I think a lot of your readers are...

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Artist Emma Stibbon Talks Glaciers and ‘Bearing Witness’

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Artist Emma Stibbon Talks Glaciers and ‘Bearing Witness’

Spread the News:ShareFor award winning artist Emma Stibbon, connecting with the landscapes she draws is a crucial part of her artistic process. Her travels have taken her to both poles and in between, where she has witnessed the impacts human activity has in some of the most isolated parts of the world. Stibbon, who is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Brighton, creates large, generally monochromatic works that evoke expansive and lonely landscapes. She agreed to do an interview with GlacierHub to discuss glaciers, her role as a witness of human imprints on the world, and the importance of capturing the ephemeral nature of the world’s icy landscapes.   GH: What drew you to glaciers and ice bergs – specifically in the Antarctic Peninsula – in the first place? ES: I have long been interested in the effects of snow and ice on a landscape. My first trip to Antarctica in 2005 was extraordinary: watching the full cycle of ice moving and calving into bergs right in front of me; there is something mysterious about such a large gleaming mass on the move. I am interested in glaciers both as dynamic features and as places of psychological imagining, and their evident retreat in the Peninsula area are of urgent environmental concern. I’ve been committed to it as a project ever since with projects in the Alps, Iceland, the High Arctic and Antarctica.   GH: Why do you feel it is important to depict them? ES: Ice sheets and glaciers face a precarious future and their evident retreat in the Polar Regions is of environmental concern. One of the reasons I was provoked to visit the Antarctic Peninsula was reading about recent scientific assessments that show increasing instability in the Polar ice sheets confirming that the vulnerability of the Polar Regions will have profound effects upon our global environment. I see my work fitting within a North European Romantic tradition of the Sublime. In a contemporary context this is both a landscape under threat but also a dynamic powerful force that puts a perspective on our own existence and other species.   GH: What difference does it make for an artist actually to visit the ice, rather than to draw from photographs? ES: Being ‘in the field’ allows me a sense of bearing witness to something, I require that physical experience of place in order to make my studio based work. Once on location I usually gather information, either through drawing from observation or the camera. I believe that a human response to place is still meaningful, that the tactile quality of drawing connects with people on an emotional, visceral level. GH: Why do you select particular media (drawing and prints rather than oils or watercolors)? ES: The drawing process is fundamental to my work. I struggle to establish a correspondence between the drawing media and the subject and to equate an experience of place with a drawn mark. I often use delicate drawing media; watercolour, graphite, carbon and aluminium powder to try to both render an image and use the media as metaphor for the subject. The scale of the work is important, I want to create immersive drawings that communicate something of the sensory qualities of the place – to connect viewers with the Polar environment. For me the act of drawing has almost magical qualities, allowing me to connect the physical world with memory.   GH: Does your art emphasize the ice itself or the broader environment? ES: A bit of both. I have a formal interest in the complex, physical shapes of the...

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Photo Friday: Visible Glacier Shrinking in Puncak Jaya

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, Science | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Visible Glacier Shrinking in Puncak Jaya

Spread the News:ShareEven though mountain peaks near the equator have supported glaciers for thousands of years, they have retreated significantly in the last century because of climate change. Many tropical glaciers have lost more than half of their volume with the rapid development of global industry. Puncak Jaya, the earth’s highest island peak in Indonesia, holds the last glaciers in the tropical Pacific. Back in 1989, five ice masses sat on the slopes of Puncak Jaya. But by 2009, two of the glaciers, Meren and Southwall, were gone. The other three, Carstenz, East Northwall Firn, and West North Wall Firn, have retreated dramatically since the 1970’s, according to satellite imagery analyzed by Joni L. Kincaid and Andrew G. Klein, from the department of Geography in Texas A&M University. The Meren Glacier melted away sometime between 1994 and 2000. Pictures below, provided by NASA and U.S. Government show, the dynamic shrinking glacier in Puncak Jaya. sight 2009 1989 1972 1936 Photo Friday highlights photo essays and collections from areas with glaciers. If you have photos you’d like to share, let us know in the comments, by Twitter @glacierhub or email us at glacierhub@gmail.com.  Spread the...

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Photo of the Week: Forgotten Glaciers in the Pyrenees

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo of the Week: Forgotten Glaciers in the Pyrenees

Spread the News:ShareThe Pyrenees, a mountain range between France and Spain, are home to some rarely written about, but strikingly beautiful glaciers. Glaciers in the Pyrenees receive less attention than their counterparts in places like Greenland, the Himalayas, and Switzerland, but like these more familiar ones, they are also very fragile, and very spectacular. Unfortunately,  because of their relatively low latitude and altitude, the glaciers in the Pyrenees may not be around for very much longer. Chapelle à Saint Nicolas de Veroce, commune de Saint Gervais-les-Bains, Haute-Savoie, Rhône-Alpes, France Photo By: Bernard Blanc Via: flicker Loudenvielle, France Lake in Loudenvielle, Pyrennees 2005 Photo By: Johan Follow Via: Flicker Boums de Port et refuge Photo By: Stéphan Peccini La cascade Colla de Caballo Photo By: R E M I B R I D O Via: Flikcer Au soir tombant, Bosdarros, Béarn, Pyrénées Atlantiques, Aquitaine, France. Photo By: Bernard Blanc VIa: Flicker Pyrénées Photo by: Gzooh Via: Flikcer Matignon, vallée d'Aspe, Béarn, Pyrénées Atlantiques, Aquitaine, France Image By: Bernard Blanc Via: Flicker   Photo Friday highlights photo essays and collections from areas with glaciers. If you have photos you’d like to share, let us know in the comments, by Twitter @glacierhub or email us at glacierhub@gmail.com. Spread the...

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Glaciers and Society: Ethnographic Approaches

Posted by on Feb 19, 2015 in Adaptation, All Posts, Art/Culture, Communities, Featured Posts | 0 comments

Glaciers and Society: Ethnographic Approaches

Spread the News:ShareBy Mattias Borg Rasmussen and Karine Gagné According to the 2007 Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the decrease of glaciers is a nearly worldwide phenomenon. But how do local communities experience and comprehend melting glaciers? A range of anthropological studies have examined the relationship between glaciers and societies. While glaciers can be depicted as elements of the landscape and their retreat connected to water excess and scarcity, as demonstrated by Drew (2012) with the case of the Gangotri–Gaumukh Glacier in North India and Cruikshank (2005) with the case of the Mount Saint Elias ranges where Alaska, British Columbia and Yukon Territory meet, glaciers also form part of local worldviews and cultural systems. Therefore, glaciers also provide an entrance point for understanding how environmental change is dealt with by very different societies. Glacial retreat is not only a matter of aesthetics and resource management: changes in the qualities of the landscapes have deeply felt implications for the cultural lives of those living nearby whose material and spiritual lives are entangled with the rhythms of the glaciers. Such unsettled relationships are further disturbed as the melting ice draw in new actors and agendas for either mitigation, adaptation or economic development. In these encounters around the melting ice there is a friction or tension between Western representations and local people’s views of glaciers. Western science and standards have served as mechanisms to redefine glaciers, valuing them for their aesthetic dimensions, exploiting them for income-generating activities, protecting societies against increasing danger, or using them as scientific laboratories. Thus, the retreating glaciers draw together actors on different scales.   Conceptualizations of glaciers are rich and diversified across cultural settings. In their studies conducted in Nepal, Agrawala & Van Aalst (2008) and Kattelmann (2003) have shown how this must be taken into account when actions for adapting to a changing environment are designed. The knowledge of communities that live in the proximity of the glaciers is fundamentally empirical as the meltwater feed directly into local livelihoods. As their crops are dependent on stream flow for irrigation, farmers in mountain communities are sensitive observers to changes in water availability as demonstrated by Meenawat & Sovacool (2011) in Bhutan and Banerji & Basu (2010) in North India. In addition to this, glaciers can be central to the ways different peoples narrate their place in the world. In other words, glaciers are part of local ontologies and cosmologies, transcending the representational character of landscape. For some communities, because they have a sacred character, these glaciers compel a set of prescribed behaviors, like Byg & Salick (2009) have shown in their research in Tibet and Frömming (2009) in her research on Mount Kilimanjaro. Transgressing local rules is seen as a key factor in triggering the movement of glaciers and, consequently, the movements of glaciers are often seen as the result of an encounter between different worlds and different values: as local worlds are disrupted by outside influences, glaciers move and may generate natural hazards. These encounters mean that glaciers are infused with new meanings that may well interfere with how they are valued in local cosmologies. As Purdie (2013) has demonstrated in her study in New Zealand, tourism, for example, has transformed glaciers into sites of great economic importance. But the proximity to the glaciers so valued among tourists contrasts with local taboos that prevail among many societies that attribute a sacred character to glaciers. The same goes for the new lucrative economic activities that glacier retreat has opened up to in different parts of the world as demonstrated by Carey et al. (2012) in their...

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