Posts Tagged "norway"

Norway’s Gift to Finland: A Mountain and a Snowfield

Posted by on Dec 24, 2015 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

Norway’s Gift to Finland: A Mountain and a Snowfield

Spread the News:ShareNorway may present its neighbor Finland with an unusual gift: a mountain 1331 meters in elevation, with a permanent snowfield at its top. This peak, Halti, lies a few hundred meters on the Norwegian side of the boundary between the countries.  Though it is small by Norwegian standards—it does not appear on the ranking of the country’s 200 tallest mountains—it would become the highest peak in Finland. The current summit to hold that record, Haltitunturi, is just 7 meters lower; it is a high point on a ridge that descends from Halti itself. (A kilometer to the north, further within Norwegian territory, there is a higher peak,  Raisduotthaldi, which rises to 1361 meters in elevation; it has not been offered as a gift.) To accomplish this transfer, Norway would cede only a tiny portion of its territory, a triangle 1.5 hectares in area. The idea was first proposed in the 1970s by Bjørn Geirr Harsson, the former chief engineer of the Statens Kartverk, the Norwegian Mapping Authority, after he had observed the close proximity of the summit to the border while on a helicopter survey of the region.  When he learned earlier this year that Finland would be celebrating the centennial of its independence from Russia in 2017, he decided that this anniversary would be a good occasion to bring his idea into fruition.   The Facebook page that discusses this gift has over 10,000 likes, with numerous comments from Norwegians and Finns, nearly all of them positive, and a few positive comments from others as well. Liisa Malkki, a Finnish anthropologist at Stanford University, shared this enthusiasm in a recent email to Facebook, in which she described the idea as “a beautiful breath of imagination from Norway!”  In another email interview, Rasmus  Gjedssø Bertelsen, a Danish political scientist at the University of the Arctic in Tromsø, Norway, expressed a similar sentiment, calling it “a great gesture from Norwegians.” The story has attracted attention in the press and social media in Norway and Finland, in the other Nordic countries of Sweden and Denmark,  and in more distant countries, include the UK,   Russia and Turkey. These stories note that the full diplomatic negotiations to accomplish this transfer have yet to begin, though the Norwegian Mapping Authority and its Finnish counterpart have both expressed their support.  A recent post on Gizmodo describes the idea as “truly embracing the Christmas spirit—the part where you give of yourself.” The theme of holiday generosity is also expressed by CNN, whose story calls the proposed transfer “the pinnacle of gift-giving.” Moving #mountains: #Norway wants to give #Finland a new highest #peak @CNNI https://t.co/K0AEb8uEQI — Markus Ahonen (@MarkusAhonen) December 18, 2015 By contrast, the centennial itself has attracted less attention. Only a few bloggers have emphasized the long, tangled history between Finland and Russia, pointing out that the Soviet Union invaded Finland during World War II. The Soviets occupied  border territories and retained them after the end of the war. The Finnish residents of these areas were evacuated to Finland.  More recently, tensions between Norway and Russia have increased. The cooperation between the countries declined after the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, and deteriorated further when  Russian military planes entered Norwegian airspace earlier this year. GlacierHub has found that some Finns find the mountain important, not only for its height, but also for its links to glaciers and ice and to cryosphere science.  Antti E.K. Ojala and his colleagues conducted paleomagnetic dating of sediments in nearby lakes to trace the activity of the Halti Glacier, a large mass of ice on the higher portions of the mountain, which they...

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The Question of Black Carbon

Posted by on Oct 15, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Science | 0 comments

The Question of Black Carbon

Spread the News:ShareBlack carbon has only recently emerged as a known major contributor to climate change, especially for the Arctic. Formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass, black carbon absorbs light more strongly than any other particulate matter, especially when deposited onto glaciers and snow cover. Here, it lowers their reflectivity, thereby absorbing atmospheric heat and resulting in earlier spring melt and higher temperatures. New research, published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, is attempting to address research gaps in this new but significant climate agent by quantifying and analyzing black carbon concentration and deposition in Svalbard, the major archipelago north of Norway. The study, focusing on black carbon on the Holtedahlfonna glacier in Svalbard between 1700 and 2004, found significant rises in black carbon concentration from the 1970s until 2004 , with unprecedented levels in the 1990s.  Importantly, the study concludes that the increase in black carbon concentration “cannot be simply explained by changes in the snow accumulation rate at the glacier,” or simply by glacial melt and shrinkage in Svalbard. This indicates that black carbon was instead deposited in increasing quantities during this time period. The study raises some puzzling differences between black carbon concentrations and deposition in Svalbard and between previous data from other Arctic regions. While Svalbard’s black carbon values increased rapidly from a low point in 1970 until 2004, reaching a high in the 1990s, black carbon analyzed in Greenland ice cores indicated generally decreasing atmospheric black carbon concentrations since 1989 in the Arctic. This difference is likely at least partly explained by differences in the specific methodologies used in the studies, such as the operational definition of black carbon that determined which size particles were included in the study. The Svalbard study collected its data by filtering the inner part of a 125 m deep ice core from the Holtedahlfonna glacier through a quartz fiber filter. The filtrate was analyzed using a thermal-optical method, while previous comparable studies used an SP2 (Single Particle Soot Photometer) method. The different methodologies used between studies makes it hard to assess the validity of the studies’ findings. Indeed, previous studies on black carbon on Himalayan and European ice cores have repeatedly shown different and contracting trends when measured with different analytical methods, even when studies examined the same glaciers. This indicates a significant need for more and improved research on black carbon research in the Arctic. Black carbon concentrations, as the study reveals, are immensely complicated and depend on a variety of factors, such as air concentration of black carbon, the amount of precipitation, local wind drift patterns post-deposition, sublimation, and melt. Black carbon concentration can also be affected by sudden changes in snow and ice accumulation, or seasonal melt. These factors make it difficult for scientists to collect faithful data of black carbon concentration over time. However, black carbon data in the Arctic is incredibly important: in the Arctic, black carbon is a more important warming agent than greenhouse gases. Its levels are intensely impacted from local and regional emission sources near Svalbard, such as forest and wild fires and flaring at gas wells in Russia, impacts that are difficult to accurately quantify, the researcher state. While this study sheds light on recent trends of black carbon levels in Svalbard, it raises some key questions about the particle’s measurement, suggesting a need for further development of accurate black carbon measurement techniques and for further research on the role black carbon plays in Arctic warming. Spread the...

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Photo Friday: A Snapshot of Svalbard

Posted by on Oct 9, 2015 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: A Snapshot of Svalbard

Spread the News:ShareSvalbard is a Norwegian archipelago tucked in between Norway and the North Pole. Especially known for its views of the Northern Lights and its summer “midnight sun,” in which sunlight graces the archipelago 24 hours a day, Svalbard is also known for its glaciers, which cover around 60 percent of Svalbard’s land area. Project Pressure, a charity documenting the world’s vanishing glaciers, posted incredible photos of Southern Svalbard’s glaciers. Project Pressure hosts a wide collection of incredible, free-to-use images, so be sure to check out their website here. Wavelike formation next to the Tuv Glacier in the Hornsund fjord, Southern Svalbard A crevasse on the Hans Glacier in the Hornsund fjord, Southern Svalbard Hans Glacier at dusk in September in the Hornsund fjord, Southern Svalbard Many thanks to Chris Arnold, the photographer of these photos. Check out his website here.   Spread the...

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Roundup: “Wild card” glaciers, luxury ice cubes, & glacial dynamics

Posted by on Oct 5, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Roundup | 0 comments

Roundup: “Wild card” glaciers, luxury ice cubes, & glacial dynamics

Spread the News:Share This West Antarctica glacier is a ‘wild card’ for world’s coastlines “Scientists who have been raising alarms about the endangered ice sheet of West Antarctica say they’ve identified a key glacier that could pose the single most immediate threat to the world’s coastlines – and are pushing for an urgent new effort to study it. The glacier is not one that most Americans will have even heard of – Thwaites Glacier along the Amundsen Sea. It’s a monstrous body that is bigger than Pennsylvania and has discharged over 100 billion tons of ice each year in recent years. The glacier is both vast and vulnerable, because its ocean base is exposed to warm water and because of an unusual set of geographic circumstances that mean that if it starts collapsing, there may be no end to the process. But it’s also difficult to study because of its location – not near any U.S. research base, and in an area known for treacherous weather. As a result, the researchers are also calling for more support from the federal government to make studying West Antarctica’s glaciers, and Thwaites in particular, a top priority.” To read more about the Twhaites ice shelf, click here. Luxury ice cubes? Greens slam ‘insane’ plan to carve Norway glacier    “A controversial plan to harvest ice cubes from a melting Norwegian glacier and sell them in luxury bars across the globe has drawn criticism from the head of WWF Norge, who said that such an idea proves the world has gone completely insane…. The idea to use parts of Svartisen – mainland Norway’s second largest glacier which is projected to melt over the next century – is being pushed forward by Norwegian company Svaice. In FebruarySvaice won a grant from the local Meloy municipality, which is enthusiastically backing the project and is due to meet on Wednesday to decide on the project’s future.” Read more here. Observed latitudinal variations in erosion as a function of glacier dynamics “Climate change is causing more than just warmer oceans and erratic weather. According to scientists, it also has the capacity to alter the shape of the planet. In a five-year study published today in Nature, lead author Michele Koppes, assistant professor in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, compared glaciers in Patagonia and in the Antarctic Peninsula. She and her team found that glaciers in warmer Patagonia moved faster and caused more erosion than those in Antarctica, as warmer temperatures and melting ice helped lubricate the bed of the glaciers. “We found that glaciers erode 100 to 1,000 times faster in Patagonia than they do in Antarctica,” said Koppes. “Antarctica is warming up, and as it moves to temperatures above 0 degrees Celsius, the glaciers are all going to start moving faster. We are already seeing that the ice sheets are starting to move faster and should become more erosive, digging deeper valleys and shedding more sediment into the oceans.” To learn more about the study’s findings, click here. Spread the...

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Artist Diane Burko Ties Together Art and Science

Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts | 0 comments

Artist Diane Burko Ties Together Art and Science

Spread the News:ShareThe nexus between art and science first featured in artist and photographer Diane Burko’s work in 2006. Since then, Burko has traveled around the world to capture monumental landscapes and features. She has spent time in Norway, Greenland and the Antarctic Peninsula, documenting and bearing witness to the global disappearance of glaciers.  Burko agreed to an interview with GlacierHub, where she discusses her journey to communicate science and dispel doubt through art. GH: What first inspired you to draw connections between art and science? DB: I think I am “science curious”.  As a landscape artist, monumental geological environments, dramatic vistas, aerial views, have always captured my imagination. Perhaps growing up in a New York City apartment may be why…  The Grand Canyon was one of my first subjects in the 70’s. Understanding its deep history – how it was formed was crucial. When I did a series on Volcanoes in 2000, learning about plate tectonics was part of my process. Knowing how a landscape is put together, the geology, is as important to me as experiencing it by walking, climbing or flying over it… GH: Why is it important to bring together art and science? DB: I believe that art can communicate science. My obsession with nature at its most awe-inspiring naturally leads me to want to preserve and protect it.  That’s why I want to show how our environment is being threatened by climate change. My strategy is to seduce with beauty and then subtly insert awareness in the viewer by utilizing visual/scientific prompts I’ve garnered through my interactions with climatologists, my observations in the field and my own research. The visual devices (literal and metaphoric) employed are as simple as presenting chronological images of glaciers receding in multiple panels. Or more mysterious and abstract images redolent with the idea of the landscape as body –  as mortal with potential to decay, contrasting ancient rocks with melting ice. Landsat maps and geological diagrams, and recessional lines are also strategic devices I’ve employed. GH: Tell us about your trip to Argentina and Antarctica. What challenges did you face? What part of the trip struck you the most? DB: In January 2015 I was invited to join 26 educators with “Students on Ice” a nonprofit organization offering student expedition experiences to Antarctica and the Arctic. This was my second expedition there – the other in 2013. After the voyage we landed back in Ushuaia and boarded a plane to El Calafate. Having been to the two largest ice fields in the world (Antarctica and Greenland) I was eager to see the third largest one in Patagonia. Initially my goal was to go to climb on Perito Marino, which has a 3-mile front glacial front. Ironically this is one of the few glaciers that is not receding However it was Viedma Glacier that totally took my breadth away. Wearing crampons we climbed very carefully on top of this glacier for hours because it was really treacherous. Crevasses were everywhere around me as I captured some incredible images Back in the studio, I am working on a series on Upsala, which was the third glacier we visited – also receding. GH: How do people respond to your work? DB: They seem to respond at the exhibitions. And they participate when I give talks on my artistic practice at the intersection of art and science. GH: The world of ice is at times colorless, white ice and dark rock, but the blue keeps appearing. How do you work with the color? DB: I just embrace it – attempting to capture it’s magic through my...

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