Roundup: Cryospheric Microbes, Moving Borders, and a Glacial Chase Movie

New Article Reports Current Knowledge on the Microbial Ecology of the Cryosphere

A report synthesizes our current knowledge of microbial ecosystems in cold (below 5 degrees Celcius) environments, including glacial habitats.

From Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology: “Microorganisms in cold ecosystems play a key ecological role in their natural habitats. Since these ecosystems are especially sensitive to climate changes, as indicated by the worldwide retreat of glaciers and ice sheets as well as permafrost thawing, an understanding of the role and potential of microbial life in these habitats has become crucial. Emerging technologies have added significantly to our knowledge of abundance, functional activity, and lifestyles of microbial communities in cold environments. The current knowledge of microbial ecology in glacial habitats and permafrost, the most studied habitats of the cryosphere, is reported in this review.”

To study the microbes of one of Iceland’s glaciers, Mario Toubes-Rodrigo of Manchester Metropolitan University samples sediment from the glacier (Source: David Elliott/Flickr).

A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change

A new book explores how global warming poses a challenge to national borders.

From the Columbia University Press description: “Italy’s northern border follows the watershed that separates the drainage basins of Northern and Southern Europe. Running mostly at high altitudes, it crosses snowfields and perennial glaciers—all of which are now melting as a result of anthropogenic climate change. As the watershed shifts so does the border, contradicting its representations on official maps. Italy, Austria, and Switzerland have consequently introduced the novel legal concept of a “moving border,” one that acknowledges the volatility of geographical features once thought to be stable.”

A part of the Central Eastern Alps, the Zillertal Alps border Austria and Italy (Source: Hagens World Photography/Flickr).

Scandinavia House Screens 2017 Film Following World War II Fighter Through Norway’s Frozen Landscapes

From Scandinavia House: “Based on the true-life tale of World War II resistance fighter Jan Baalsrud, The 12th Man follows a Norwegian mission group’s journey across the North Sea to sabotage a German military facility. When the group’s identity is compromised and they’re attacked by a Nazi warship, Baalsrud is the sole member to evade capture, who escapes by swimming across frigid fjord waters to a nearby island to hide within the mountains.What follows is a harrowing exodus, as Baalsrud fights to stay alive in sub-freezing temperatures, surrounded by landscapes that are as stunningly beautiful as they are treacherous. In his quest for survival under relentless pursuit by a Nazi officer, Baalsrud must rely on the compassion of locals willing to risk their lives to help him cross the border to safety in Sweden.”

Read More on GlacierHub:

How Mountain-Dwellers Talk About Adapting to Melting Glaciers

Video of the Week: A Stroll Through Myvatnsjokull Glacier

New Funds Help Girls On Ice Canada Expand Access to Glacier Expeditions

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New Funds Help Girls On Ice Canada Expand Access to Glacier Expeditions

This past month, Girls On Ice Canada was granted $25,000 through the PromoScience Program of the Natural Resource and Engineering Research Council of Canada in order to continue their inspirational and educational science program in 2019. In the summer of 2018, the organization took their first group of 10 women aged 16-17 on a free trip through Canada’s Glacier National Park.

Girls On Ice Canada is run by Inspiring Girls Expeditions, an organization that began with an expedition in 1999 to the South Cascade Glacier in Washington with a group of five girls and two instructors. Since then, it has expanded to offer a variety of programs that provide young women opportunities to explore science and nature on glaciers, water, rocks, and fjords.

With women remaining an underrepresented group in the sciences, Girls On Ice provides an environment for young women to explore their scientific interests. As Erin Pettit, founder of Girls On Ice and Inspiring Girls Expeditions, told Smithsonian, girls are socialized to avoid showing their interest or intelligence in science. “But I want to provide a space without that pressure—where the girls can show their interest, their intelligence, their strength,” she said.

Girls On Ice Canada, the newest addition to the programs offered by Inspiring Girls Expeditions, was founded by Alison Criscitiello and three others. “The idea is to serve a different population, mainly First Nations youth in Canada,” Criscitiello told GlacierHub. The Canada-based program, she explained, was a response to the number of Canadian girls applying to the US expeditions.

2018 Girls On Ice Canada participants on GlacierHub
Participants in a 2018 Girls On Ice Canada expedition pose for the camera. (Source: Alison Criscitiello)

The new Canadian program is in high demand. A press release from the University of Alberta, which houses Girls on Ice Canada, notes that over 600 girls applied to ten spots in this year’s expedition.

Criscitiello told GlacierHub that the group is aiming to expand, eventually offering two or three expeditions a year. As part of the effort to make Canada’s program accessible to as many young women as possible, this year’s expedition will involve a live session through National Geographic’s Explorer Classroom program, during which participants will have the opportunity to answer their peers’ questions from their expedition campground.

Girls On Ice isn’t only encouraging women to pursue the sciences. According to the group’s philosophy, regardless of whether participants continue with careers in the sciences, the program seeks to enable young women to “challenge themselves and gain self-confidence in their physical, intellectual, and social abilities.”

Girls On Ice Canada’s first expedition, which occurred last year, had a positive effect on Alyana Lalani. Writing in Scouting Life, she said the program “helped me change my mindset because, moving onwards in life, I know that I will get through whatever difficulty I am facing if I keep going forward.”

According to Inspiring Girls Expeditions, its expeditions are “the science version of a language immersion experience—where we connect science with all aspects of daily life with the goal of creating lifelong advocates for Earth science, specifically, and the scientific process as a whole.”

Criscitiello hopes to make the group’s 2019 expedition even more immersive. Last summer, during the group’s first expedition in Canada, the group spent the first several days of the program at a campground near the glacier due to a lack of available space, she said. “This year,” she said, “we’re heading almost immediately straight into the backcountry and cutting some of that time out in an attempt to really spend the bulk of the time with the girls in a remote location where there’s no interaction with other people and you’re really out there.”

Environmental awareness is a crucial part of this immersion. Alyana said, “During our entire expedition, my instructors stressed the Leave No Trace principles—minimum-impact outdoor activity and taking care of the environment.”

Girls On Ice Canada aims to empower young women to find confidence while pursuing research and learning to appreciate British Columbia’s glacial landscapes. It also plays a role in raising awareness about the conservation of glaciers. As Alyana said, “no matter what our goals were, protecting and respecting our environment came first.”

Read More on GlacierHub:

Photo Friday: Nelly Elagina’s View of Mount Elbrus

The Impact of the GRACE Mission on Glaciology and Climate Science

How Dust From Receding Glaciers Is Affecting the Climate

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