Posts Tagged "tourism"

Tourists on Thin Ice in Glacial Lagoon

Posted by on Mar 15, 2016 in Featured Posts, News, Tourism, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Tourists on Thin Ice in Glacial Lagoon

Spread the News:ShareIn February, a group of nearly 50 tourists drew national attention in Iceland when, ignoring posted signs, they wandered onto a sheet of ice. Luckily they were called by back to shore by a tour guide who spotted them, according to Iceland Magazine. However, the event raised the question of tourist safety, which is a growing concern in the area. The event happened at the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, a popular destination in southeast Iceland and the terminus of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. The group, which included some parents with children, braved the ice in order to get a closer view of seals. They jumped over cracks between floating ice. Though the ice appeared stable, the tourists had placed themselves at risk of being stranded since the ice sheets could have drifted apart. The Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon is a draw for tourists in the area, since it contains strikingly impressive icebergs and is conveniently situated on Iceland’s Ring Road. Dr. Þorvarður Árnason, an environmental scientist at the University of Iceland, said that the lagoon’s ice is made complicated by its tidal connection with the Atlantic Ocean. “Foreign tourists coming to Jökulsárlón during the winter are probably not aware of this,” he wrote in an email message. “They think this is a ‘normal’ frozen lake… and do not consider the danger of the incoming tide of warm oceanic water which can melt the surface ice and also causes the floating icebergs to start moving, so that the ice around them can crack.” The incident has become known locally as “the stranding of the tourists,” according to M Jackson, a researcher in the area who spoke with GlacierHub. Jackson is based near Jökulsárlón and is on a 9-month visit to Iceland to collect first-hand observations and accounts of glaciers’ impacts and relationships with humans. In Iceland, Jackson said that the problem of tourist safety is frequent and well-known. She spoke with tourists at Jökulsárlón in the days following the incident. When she went to the lagoon, tourists were again walking out onto the ice and she asked them about safety when they returned to shore. Some said they were following footprints in the snow, while others thought it was similar to walking on frozen lakes back home. Others said danger wasn’t a concern. The responses indicated that tourists were both unfamiliar with the dangers of the lagoon ice and neglectful of “individual and community safety,” Jackson wrote via email. “There appears to be a disregard for the dangers foreign tourists are placing themselves in and the dangers they are placing others in—the rescuers who will volunteer to help them.” Jackson lives in the town of Höfn, a fishing town of 1,700 near Jökulsárlón, and said that resident volunteers from the town are the first line of response for situations like the one that arose. Volunteer groups fit into a long tradition in Iceland, according to a recent article in the New Yorker. The Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue’s original goal was to save fishermen lost at sea. In 1950, they saved both the victims of a plane crash on a glacier as well as a team of first responders from the American military who got stranded. The work is seen as a form of community service, with employers allowing volunteers to take time off for for training and emergencies. The presence of this system has encouraged abuse, and tourists are seen as taking unnecessary risks because they count on it. Though the tourist group at Jökulsárlón was able to walk back to shore and did not need saving, incidents such as this still ring alarm bells in Höfn. Jackson said that when...

Read More

Why Is a Region in China Banning Glacier Tourism?

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Interviews, Policy and Economics, Tourism | 0 comments

Why Is a Region in China Banning Glacier Tourism?

Spread the News:ShareIn order to protect the glaciers, tourists in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region will only be allowed to enjoy the sight of them from a distance, instead of walking on them, according to a proposed new regulation in China’s latest Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). Glaciers are “solid reservoirs” in dry regions such as Xinjiang, and thus an important water source. The accelerated destruction of the glaciers, affected by global warming, have led to water shortages in some areas of the country. There are over 46,000 glaciers in China, with more than 18,000 located in Xinjiang, which accounts for about 43 percent of the national ice reserves by area. The Tian Shan Mountains is the “watertower of Central Asia,” with the most important, and the biggest, being the Urumqi Riverhead Glacier No. 1. The temperature of Xinjiang, which is in China’s northwest, increased by 0.06 degrees Celsius per decade over the past 50 years, a rate which is much higher than the global average.The meltwater from the glacier has reduced after years of the glacier receding. Chen Xi from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said that small glaciers at low altitudes are more sensitive to climate change. “Glaciers in the Tianshan Mountains have receded by 15 to 30 percent in the last three decades,” Chen said, according to China Daily. “And they will continue to retreat by 60 percent in the next 20 years, and by 80 to 90 percent half a century from today.” In recent years, glacier tourism in Xinjiang attracted large number of tourists, but the revenue has been relatively low, at less than one billion yuan ($152 million). Li Jidong, party secretary of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Tourism Bureau, said according to ts news, “Glacier tourism brought in revenue of less than one billion yuan ($152 million) over the past dozen years, but the collapse of glaciers and loss from shrinking glaciers is incalculable.” Up-close glacier travel will be banned in Xinjiang, according to the new policy. Xinjiang has called for other countries and regions along the Tianshan Mountains to stop glacier tourism as well according to Chinanews. However, Kang Shichang, director of State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (CAREERI), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Lanzhou, China, said a total ban on glacier travel is not supported by scientific reasoning. There are hundreds of thousands of glaciers in the world, and few glaciers carry travelers, but overall glaciers are still in a state of retreat. In other words, glacier retreat is still happening, even though most of them are inaccessible to people. Therefore, the main cause of glacial retreat is not tourism. “In the future I hope glacier travel managers attach more emphasis on the popularity of glaciers literacy and arouse awareness of environmental protection and emission reduction based on current situations,” Kang said in an email to GlacierHub. Global warming is mainly responsible for glacier erosion. “Global glaciers are in an accelerated retreat trend nowadays, mainly due to global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions,” Kang said. He has his own ideal model for glacier tourism: observe glaciers from a reasonable distance. Kang noted that human activities, such as hiking and skiing in glacial areas, are not the main reason for retreat. At the same time, he worried about other human activities, such as the large number of construction, mining and other industrial activities, disorderly foot traffic on the glacier surface, and garbage. “The impact of these behaviors on glaciers is more severe by changing the surface albedo of glaciers, so lead to glacier...

Read More

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...

Read More

Ice Cavers Travel Into the Heart of Glaciers

Posted by on Jan 6, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Tourism | 0 comments

Ice Cavers Travel Into the Heart of Glaciers

Spread the News:ShareAs their name suggests, ice caves are tunnel-like features that occur within ice bodies, usually glaciers. They have been known to science at least since 1900, when the American explorer and scientist Edwin Balch described them in his book Glacières or Freezing Caverns. In recent decades, some ice caves have become major tourist attractions. Ice caves are formed by the horizontal movement of liquid water through glaciers. This movement causes some of the ice to melt. In some cases, the liquid water is produced by melting on the glacier surface; it then descends through a vertical tunnel or moulin to the glacier bed, where it flows out and emerges at the glacier snout. In other cases, geothermal activity provides the heat to melt the ice. Caves can also form on glaciers that terminate in lakes or the ocean; melting at the front of the glacier can proceed under the glacier, sometimes for considerable distances. Ice caves attract tourists in a number of countries. Norway and Iceland are major destinations for people who wish the visit them, but they are found in other countries as well, including Switzerland, Austria, Russia, Canada, Argentina and New Zealand. The nature photographer Kamil Tamiola entered an ice cave on the north face of an Alpine summit in France at 3,800 meters above sea level. “You need to stay focused, pay attention to every single move and commit yourself entirely to this climb,” he said. He used mountaineering gear, including ice axes and crampons. Less equipment is needed to enter the ice caves of Lake Superior, which form each winter from seeps in a limestone cave rather than from melting within a glacier. Tourists wear warm clothing and boots, and bring only trekking poles for balance. “It’s just fantastic, ” said Jim McLaughlin, who visited them in 2014. “It’s unique to see water in so many different forms and different colors and the way it’s sculpted.” McLaughlin and the others In all these countries, the best time to visit ice caves is during the winter. There is a greater risk of collapse from melting at other seasons. Tourists have to bring appropriate gear to enter an ice cave. Helmets, gloves, sturdy boots, and warm layered clothing are often required. Headlamps and kneepads are highly recommended. There is a sense of urgency about glacier caving, since some of the caves are at risk of disappearing. Bob Krumenaker, the park superintendant at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where the Lake Superior ice caves are located, mentioned that people treat ice caving as “a truly endangered national park experience, because, like endangered animals, we can’t predict its future, and it may not be there,” The Sandy Glacier Cave System on Mount Hood in Oregon is also shrinking. In his website From a Glacier’s Perspective, Mauri Pelto writes of the complete disappearance of the caves on Paradise Glacier on Mount Rainier in Washington. For the meantime, though, a visit to an ice cave can provide a striking experience of the interior of a glacier. Spread the...

Read More

Climate Change Spurs Tourism in Nepal, But Will it Last?

Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in Adaptation, All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, Tourism | 0 comments

Climate Change Spurs Tourism in Nepal, But Will it Last?

Spread the News:SharePossessing eight of the ten highest mountains in the world, Nepal has attracted mountaineers from around the globe. Currently, there are 326 peaks open to mountaineering in the country, while 112 peaks remain unclimbed. Trekking and mountaineering, the most popular tourism activities in Nepal, bring substantial profits to the country. In 2013, travel and tourism accounted for 8.2% of Nepal’s GDP. As the resources required for tourism in Nepal is highly climate dependent, if climate change melts the ice and snow on Nepal’s mountain peaks, will tourists continue to flock to Nepal? Nepal’s Mt. Manaslu, in the Mansiri Himal mountain range, is the eighth highest mountain in the world, at 8163 meters above sea level. It is part of the Manaslu Conservation Area (MCA), which is bordered by the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north and east, Manang District to the west, and Gorkha District to the south. Featuring glacial mountain tops, great biodiversity and coniferous forest, it is a popular destination for skiing, hiking, and mountain biking, which are major income sources for the local people. Currently, tourism in the area is benefitting from climate change, as warmer winter weather is attracting visitors. Reduced snowfall has also made it easier to complete some challenging paths, like Larke Pass, at 5135 meters above sea level. Also, winter trekking, currently restricted to lower elevations in Nepal, is likely to extend to higher elevations as temperature rises. Both the annual mean temperature and rainfall have increased in MCA, at the rate of 0.020C. per year and 3.19 mm per year respectively from 1980 to 2011. Local households have noticed: 93.4% of those surveyed in MCA claim to have experienced climate change, such as warmer weather and irregular rainfall. In the long run, however, some worry that climate change will induce more extreme weather and water shortages in Nepal, which will be bad for tourism. Increased rainfall and natural hazards caused by climate change, such as glacial lake outburst floods, will eventually discourage Nepal’s most popular, though climate-dependent, tourist activity, trekking. As one of the ten most vulnerable developing countries, Nepal might experience decreased tourism because of climate change sooner than the other countries. GlacierHub has previously written about privatizing the world’s tallest peaks, a Peruvian national park that is capitalizing on glacier melt, glacier tourism in Peru, and a lake in Nepal that is filling with melting glacier water. Spread the...

Read More