Glacier stories you may have missed – 9/15/14

India’s diesel fumes fuel glacier melt

“Kieran Cooke, has recently been in Kolkata, one of the country’s biggest and most polluted population centres: he says increasing pollution is not only harming Kolkata’s citizens – it’s also a likely contributor to climate change taking place in the Himalayan region…”

Read more here.


Number of Alaska Glaciers is Everchanging

“A glaciologist once wrote that the number of glaciers in Alaska “is estimated at (greater than) 100,000.” That fuzzy number, perhaps written in passive voice for a reason, might be correct. But it depends upon how you count…”

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Flow chart unclear for glacial rivers

“Glaciers in the high Himalayas and on the Tibetan Plateau are a vital source of water for millions of people in Asia, but scientists question what will happen to supplies if the rate of melting continues to rise due to climate-related factors…”

Read more here.



Glacier stories you may have missed – 9/08/14

(photo: Georgia Ministry of Internal Affairs)
(photo: Georgia Ministry of Internal Affairs)

Glacier Landslide Blocks Traffic between Russia and Georgia/Armenia


“On 20th August, another landslide occurred at the same site, once again blocking the Dariali Gorge.  This landslide, which is reported to have originated at the glacier, is reported to have been larger..”


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Chilean Government Pressured Over Glacier Law

“Chilean NGOs and parliament members are putting pressure on President Michelle Bachelet’s administration to pass a new glacier protection law.”


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Glaciers in China Have Shrunk by 15 Percent in 30 Years


“China’s state-run media reported  that the country’s glaciers have shrunk by 15 percent over the last thirty years because of, obviously, global warming.”


Read more here.



Glacier scientists play the game of drones

himalaya drone
Researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and scientists at the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMD) used drones to map difficult to reach regions of the Himalayas. (source: screenshot of ICIMOD video)

For many years, the word “drone” was used only infrequently by bee enthusiasts, bagpipe players, and people subjected to monotonous music. However, in recent years it has taken on a new and controversial meanings associated with pilotless aircraft.

For many, the word is steeped in controversies that stem from its military uses in conflict zones. For others, it calls up images of gadgets like that of the small-unmanned helicopter in Amazon’s recent YouTube video, which delivers bulky packages to the doorsteps of happy customers. Few people know that a group of scientists in the Himalayas is using drones (or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to fly a different kind of mission, related to glaciers.

Along with researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, scientists at the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a sustainable development organization based in Nepal, have been sending up UAVs to map previously uncharted glaciers in some of the most inaccessible regions of the Himalayas.

The two research groups have been mapping Lirung Glacier with UAVs equipped with GPS devices and cameras since 2013. Though it could seem daunting to assemble, program and operate a flying robot, this method is relatively simple and robust. The researchers input a route for the drone to fly, and then program it to take pictures at predetermined points of interest along the way. Once the flight is complete, researchers stitch the photos together, often including those from previous flights, to make a complete map of the area.

(source: screenshot from ICIMOD video)
(source: screenshot from ICIMOD video)

An article which describes this project, published in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment, suggests that drone- based exploration may wholly transform glacier exploration and expand our knowledge of glacial dynamics in the region. Utrecht University researcher Dr. Walter Immerzel reports that the Himalayas are losing an area of ice cover at a rate equivalent to about 9,000 sports stadiums per year (on average between 15 and 30 meters per glacier). The new data provide the researchers with a clearer picture of the location of the melting ice. The data suggest that ice cliffs and ponds on the glacier surface account for the bulk of the loss of ice from Lirung Glacier ice melt.

These findings are of social as well as scientific importance, since more than one billion people in Asia rely on rivers fed by glacial melt for their drinking water, sanitation, energy, and livelihoods. At the moment, the descriptions of glacial retreat in the Himalayas offer broad-brush accounts and rely heavily on models for their information. This, and similar projects, provides science and society with a more precise, observation-based view of specific glaciers.

However, not all glaciers follow the same pattern of retreat. Consequently, the research group has plans to extend their technique to other glaciers in Nepal. Researchers hope that using UAVs to map the variation in Himalayan glaciers will provide them with the fine-grained data they need to understand and predict the future of Himalayan glaciers.

GlacierHub has covered Nepalese glaciers extensively, with pieces on village agriculture, migration and foreign development assistance.


Glacier stories you may have missed – 9/01/14
Pemba (2nd from left) and his brothers fresh from a carry to Camp 3 (at 23,500 feet) and back to Everest Base Camp in 2003. A conference to reform the mountain guide industry has just finished following an April 2014 avalanche that killed 16 Sherpa guides. (Didrik Johnck/Flickr)

Climate Change adaptation and disaster risk reduction

“As the frequency of disasters is increasing, and more people and properties are at risk, it is time to exploit the natural resource in a way that we can contribute to reduce the global warming. Effective disaster management measures should be taken, and mass awareness, institutional mainstreaming, and integration of DRR into development are to be ensured at all level. ”


Read more here.

Adaptation to the Impact of Rapid Glacier Retreat in the Tropical Andes


“The development objective Adaptation to the Impact of Rapid Glacier Retreat in the Tropical Andes Project for Andean Countries is to contribute to strengthening the resilience of local ecosystems and economies to the impacts of glacier retreat in the Tropical Andes, through the implementation of specific pilot adaptation activities that illustrate the costs and benefits of adaptation.”


Read more here.


Preliminary outputs of Mountaineering Worker’s Workshop


“Following the tragic loss of 16 Nepali mountaineering workers during the Mt. Everest avalanche on 18 April 2014, there has been a clear need for reflection and reform in Nepal’s mountaineering industry.”


Read more here.

Glacier stories you may have missed – 8/25/14
(John “STI” Kristensen/Royal Danish Air Force)

Thajiwas glacier ‘will be history in 10 years’

“Kashmir University’s senior geologist, Prof Shakil Ahmad Ramshoo, has warned that if ‘mass tourism’ to Sonamarg is not stopped, the Thajiwas glacier will soon be a history.”

Read more here.


Glacial Melt Pours Iron into Ocean, Seeding Algal Blooms

Scientists report in a new study this week that glacial melt may be funneling significant amounts of reactive iron into the ocean, where it may counter some of the negative effects of climate change by boosting algal blooms that capture carbon.

Read more here.

Fighter Pilot Films First Person View Of Flight Over Fjords

“Being a fighter pilot is a lot of work. Maintence, years of training, planning for missions, paperwork — all just to pilot one of the faster, deadlier machines ever created by human hands. Seems like a real hassle, right?”

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Glacier stories you may have missed – 8/18

Screenshot from We Are Glacier PeopleGlacier tourism could be under threat

“Canterbury University geography lecturer Heather Purdie has been monitoring Fox Glacier’s retreat since 2005, focusing on the glacier’s physical changes and how they affect tourist access and safety.”

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Researchers map the world’s glaciers (all 200,000 of them)

“The recently completed catalog will help researchers understand the effects of climate change and address water issues of local communities”

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We Are Glacier People

Indie Alaska is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. The weekly series captures the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.

Read more here.


Glacier stories you may have missed – 8/11

Glacier Skywalk

“Located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, the Glacier Skywalk forms an observation platform with stunning views of the Sunwapta Valley.”

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Artist launches Kickstarter to Sketch Montana Glaciers

“Jonathan Marquis, an avid Missoula outdoorsman, visual artist and graphic designer, wants to put his art skills to work on an environmental documentary project….The page for his “Glacier Drawing Project” lays out his plans in detail.”

Read more here.


Ancient ‘Fish Lizard’ Graveyard Discovered Beneath Melting Glacier

“Dozens of nearly complete skeletons of prehistoric marine reptiles have been uncovered near a melting glacier in southern Chile”

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A German Couple Killed in Glacier Accident

“A German couple in their 30s died in an accident at the Nigards glacier in Luster in Sogn og Fjordane Sunday afternoon”

Read more here.