Posts Tagged "himalayas"

Photo Friday: Pakistan’s Mountain Region

Posted by on Dec 16, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Pakistan’s Mountain Region

Spread the News:ShareWith a diverse landscape, northern Pakistan is home to some of the Earth’s highest peaks. The high altitude combined with the Asian monsoon have historically provided glaciers in the region with the necessary conditions to thrive, according to National Environment Agency. Despite their intimidating nature, the Himalayas have an extensive amount of biodiversity. “Climates range from tropical at the base of the mountains to perennial snow and ice at the highest elevations,” according to PBS. Check out GlacierHub’s collection of images from the glacier-rich mountain region of Pakistan. You can find additional images of Pakistan’s mountains at Pamir Times.                   Spread the...

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Roundup: Everest, Subglacial Microbiomes, and Tidewater Glaciers

Posted by on Dec 12, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: Everest, Subglacial Microbiomes, and Tidewater Glaciers

Spread the News:ShareRoundup: Everest, Anaerobes & Fjords   China Tries to Conquer Everest From Bloomberg: “Earlier this year, China opened a new paved road that winds 14,000 feet up the slope [of Mount Everest] and stops at the base camp parking lot. Plans are in the works to build an international mountaineering center, complete with hotels, restaurants, training facilities, and search-and-rescue services. There will even be a museum… What’s bad for Nepal will likely turn out to be a boon for tourists. Instead of fencing off Everest as a pristine wilderness, much as the U.S. has done with its national parks, China is approaching the Himalayas as the Europeans have the Alps… And if China sticks to it, it may well become the world’s new gateway to the Himalayas.” Interested in learning more? Read the latest news here.   Implications for the Subglacial Microbiome From Microbial Ecology: “Glaciers have recently been recognized as ecosystems comprised of several distinct habitats: a sunlit and oxygenated glacial surface, glacial ice, and a dark, mostly anoxic [absence of oxygen] glacial bed. Surface meltwaters annually flood the subglacial sediments by means of drainage channels. Glacial surfaces host aquatic microhabitats called cryoconite holes, regarded as ‘hot spots’ of microbial abundance and activity, largely contributing to the meltwaters’ bacterial diversity. This study presents an investigation of cryoconite hole anaerobes [organisms that live without air] and discusses their possible impact on subglacial microbial communities.” Learn more about this study here.   Analysis of Icebergs in a Tidewater Glacier Fjord From PLOS ONE: “Tidewater glaciers are glaciers that terminate in and calve icebergs into the ocean. In addition to the influence that tidewater glaciers have on physical and chemical oceanography, floating icebergs serve as habitat for marine animals such as harbor seals. The availability and spatial distribution of glacier ice in the fjords is likely a key environmental variable that influences the abundance and distribution of selected marine mammals… Given the predicted changes in glacier habitat, there is a need for the development of methods that could be broadly applied to quantify changes in available ice habitat in tidewater glacier fjords. We present a case study to describe a novel method that uses object-based image analysis (OBIA) to classify floating glacier ice in a tidewater glacier fjord from high-resolution aerial digital imagery.” Read more about this study here. Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Endangered Species of the Melting Himalayas

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

Photo Friday: Endangered Species of the Melting Himalayas

Spread the News:ShareThe Himalayas, located between the Indian subcontinent and the Tibetan Plateau, is among the world’s best known mountain ranges, but the region is rapidly melting as a result of climate change. This has life-threatening consequences for the diverse wildlife and people who call the mountains home. Animals native to the Himalaya range include the critically endangered red panda, Himalayan brown bear, snow leopard and tahr, to name just a few. Many of these species are gradually dwindling in number as their habitats are impacted by humans, rising temperatures and glacial melt. In 2012, for example, the World Wildlife Fund found that 30 percent of snow leopard habitat in the Himalayas may be lost to treeline shift as a result of warmer and wetter conditions, with only an estimated 4,000 snow leopards still left in the wild. The increase in temperature has caused the glaciers in the snow leopard’s habitat to recede, affecting permafrost, precipitation and water resources. Pakistan’s Minister of Climate called the snow leopard a “thermometer of the health of the mountain ecosystem.” GlacierHub hopes you will marvel at this collection of photos from the Himalayas, featuring wildlife that may very well soon be lost to climate change.                                   Spread the...

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High Altitude Plants Discovered in the Himalayas

Posted by on Nov 23, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

High Altitude Plants Discovered in the Himalayas

Spread the News:ShareMelting glaciers in the Himalayas have exposed land underneath, allowing new forms of life to migrate to deglaciated landscapes. Recently, these glacial changes have led to the discovery of the world’s highest altitude vascular plants, made possible by the early colonization of microbes in the space left by retreating glacier ice, according to a recent report in the journal Microbial Ecology. It was during a 2012 expedition that researchers first recorded six plants at an unprecedented altitude in India, 6,150 meters above sea level. The plants were growing in a small patch of undeveloped soil. The glaciers in the region had rapidly receded since the 1990s due to a spike in temperatures in the region. As a sparsely populated, cold desert with limited rainfall, the northwestern Himalayas present arid and highly stressful conditions to plants. Still, the six plants seemed to be in stable condition, according to the researcher’s report. Based on the monitored temperature and snow cover, there were only a few weeks per year that these plants could use for growth. The researchers emphasize that these are vascular plants, with tissues that contain vessels that conduct water and dissolved nutrients. But how does plant life first reach these deglaciated landscapes once the glaciers have receded? By definition, subnival zones are places where plants and microorganisms can grow and refers to the altitudinal zone between the nival zone of permanent snow (nival) and the alpine zone, the highest area of extensive vegetation, characterized by low shrubs, grasses, and cushion plants. Microorganisms such as bacteria and some types of fungi colonize subnival zones within a few years of glacial recession, making way for plants and other life forms. Bacteria and fungi typically arrive first to the deglaciated landscape because they disperse more easily and are more stress-tolerant. They disperse spores that travel in the wind to reach remote places high in mountainous regions. Because the glaciers have receded from the section of the Himalayas visited by the researchers, an opportunity arrives for microorganisms to live in the soil that was once buried underneath the ice and snow. There are several biological processes by which these microorganisms help develop the soil and allow plants to grow. For one, many bacteria can carry out photosynthesis, using sunlight to synthesize food from carbon dioxide and water. Some bacteria and fungi can also carry out nitrogen fixation, which is the process of converting nitrogen in the atmosphere to ammonia, more readily absorbed by plants. The nitrogen, in turn, can be used by other organisms. These biological processes help cultivate the soil in deglaciated landscapes by depositing nutrients, which ultimately allow plants to grow. Plant seeds and spores, also dispersed by the wind, make their way to high elevation areas. But once there, the plants rely on microorganisms to supply minerals and fix nitrogen. Rooey Angel, a coauthor of the report on the high altitude plants, talked to GlacierHub about his team’s findings. “Indeed, microbial colonisation of glacial forefield is crucial for starting soil development processes, release of minerals from soil particles, accumulation of organic carbon and nitrogen fixation,” he said. “However, with respect to nitrogen, it is important to remember that there’s a large effect of atmospheric nitrogen deposition on the forefield ecosystem, which makes nitrogen fixation less crucial.” Once plants arrive up the mountain, they further enrich the soil in deglaciated landscapes with organic matter and nutrients through a process of rhizodeposition (in which roots release organic compounds into the environment) and by weathering the bedrock. The soil surrounding the plant and containing its roots, known as the rhizosphere, is...

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Roundup: River Outlets, Plant Habitats, and Village Partners

Posted by on Oct 10, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: River Outlets, Plant Habitats, and Village Partners

Spread the News:ShareRoundup: Canadian River Vanishes, Plants in the Himalayas and Pakistan’s Villages Glacier retreat in Canada causes Yukon river to vanish. From CBCNews: “It’s been the main source of water into Yukon’s Kluane Lake for centuries, but now the Slims River has suddenly slimmed down — to nothing. ‘What folks have noticed this spring is that it’s essentially dried up,” said Jeff Bond of the Yukon Geological Survey. ‘That’s the first time that’s happened, as far as we know, in the last 350 years.’ What’s happened is some basic glacier hydrology, Bond says — essentially, the Kaskawulsh Glacier has retreated to the point where its melt water is now going in a completely different direction, away from the Slims Valley. Instead of flowing north 19 kilometres from the glacier’s toe into Kluane Lake (and ultimately, the Bering Sea), that melt water is now draining eastward via the Kaskawulsh River towards the Pacific Ocean off the Alaska panhandle. It’s a reminder that glacier-caused change is not always glacial-paced.” Read more about the effects of glacier retreat on the Slims River here:   The world’s highest vascular plants found in Indian Himalayas. From Microbial Ecology: “Upward migration of plants to barren [just below the snowl areas is occurring worldwide due to raising ambient temperatures and glacial recession. In summer 2012, the presence of six vascular plants, growing in a single patch, was recorded at an unprecedented elevation of 6150 m.a.s.l. close to the summit of Mount Shukule II in the Western Himalayas (Ladakh, India). Whilst showing multiple signs of stress, all plants have managed to establish stable growth and persist for several years.” Learn more about the role of microbes in the process of plant upward migration here.   Local struggles in Pakistan show adaptations to glacier thinning. From Erdkunde: “Framing adaptation as a process of assemblage-building of heterogeneous human and non-human [actors], two village case studies are investigated where glacier thinning has dried up a source of irrigation water, turning cropland into desert. While in the first case case, villagers were able to construct a new and extraordinary water supply scheme with the help of external development agencies, in the second case, several approaches to utilize alternative water sources over three decades were unsuccessful. An account of the adaptation assemblages shows how a diversity of actants such as individual leaders, community, external agencies, construction materials, landslides and geomorphological features play variable and contingent roles in the success or failure of adaptation efforts, thus co-defining their outcome in complex ways.” Learn more about the adaption efforts to glacier thinning in northern Pakistan here. Spread the...

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