Roundup: Zinke, Wilkes Island, and Black Flies

Increased Ice Mass Loss in Wilkes Island

From “An increased mass discharge (53 ± 14 Gt yr−1) was found in the East Indian Ocean sector since 2008 due to unexpected widespread glacial acceleration in Wilkes Land, East Antarctica, while the other five oceanic sectors did not exhibit significant changes. However, present-day increased mass loss was found by previous studies predominantly in West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula. The newly discovered increased mass loss in Wilkes Land suggests that the ocean heat flux may already be influencing ice dynamics in the marine-based sector of the East Antarctic ice sheet (EAIS).”

Learn more about the find here.

Antarctic ice velocity in 2015 and the velocity change between 2008 and 2015 (Source:

Zinke Seeks to Restore Glacier National Park’s Sperry Chalet

From Missoulian: “As part of a wide-ranging press conference here Saturday, Zinke said public comments overwhelmingly support rebuilding the popular backcountry chalet’s dormitory, burned in last summer’s Sprague Fire, as close as possible to its original state while making some upgrades. He proposes using a mix of public and private dollars to complete the work, adding that he is prepared to commit ‘whatever it takes in federal funding to restore the structure.”

Read the news here.

From left: Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow, Glacier National Park Conservancy Executive Director Doug Mitchell and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke discuss the future of Sperry Chalet, along with other national park issues, during a wide-ranging press conference on Saturday in Columbia Falls. (Source: Eve Byron/Missoulian)


Black Flies and Interactions with Climate Phenomena

From ScienceDirect: “The lack of simuliids near the glacier might be associated with the low temperature, low discharge, and reduced particulate organic matter of the meltwater. Our results are consistent with studies of simuliids in other mountains of Colombia, which document a lack of Simulium species above the páramo (i.e., in the super páramo) (Muñoz and Miranda, 2000)… Our results emphasize the dynamic nature of simuliid communities over space and time. Studies of how simuliids respond to El Niño and La Niña can provide a window into the effects of global climate change (Finn and Adler, 2006)”

Find out more about this disease transmitting vector and its environmental stimuli here.

Adult Simulium trifasciatum(Source: British Entomology by John Curtis/ WikiCommons)

Photo Friday: A Visit to Sajama, Bolivia

This Photo Friday, journey to Sajama, Bolivia, through photos taken by Karina Yager, a professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, on her recent trip to the country.

Joining two Bolivian scientists, Rosa Isela Meneses and Humber Alberto, from the Bolivian National Herbarium and the Natural History Museum, the trio conducted a field survey at Sajama National Park, monitoring vegetation change in bofedales (high Andean peatlands). In Sajama, glacier retreat, climate change and local changes in land use and livelihoods are impacting the bofedales, which are key to sustaining pastoralism in the region. Indigenous Aymara herders, who have a centuries-long tradition of raising llamas and alpacas in the region, maintain and extend these peatlands through the careful construction of irrigation canals. In addition to supporting domesticated animals and local livelihoods, the bofedales also help regulate water resources for mountain biodiversity, including vicunas and many Andean birds.

Yager expresses her gratitude to NASA ROSES LCLUC for financial support for the project, to her Bolivian colleagues and local residents, and to Apu Tatay Sajama, who all contributed to the success of the trip.


Mount Sajama, wetlands and waterfall (Source: Karina Yager).


Llama, with Aymara herders in the background, Mount Sajama (Source: Karina Yager).


Polylepis tree on slopes of Mount Sajama (Source: Karina Yager).


Ice on stems of native grasses, Mount Sajama (Source: Karina Yager).


Sunset at Sajama, Bolivia (Source: Karina Yager).


Quinoa growing at Patacamaya (Source: Karina Yager).

Video of the Week: A Glacier That Keeps Collapsing

We’ve all heard of glacial retreat. But have you heard of this glacier in Argentina that keeps collapsing?

Take a look at this BBC video of the Perito Moreno glacier in the country’s Patagonia region, where a part of the glacier recently collapsed. This event is, thankfully, not due to climate change. Rather, its part of an unusual cycle of an advancing glacier, slowly damming a section of the Argentino Lake, creating an ice bridge, which then ruptures and collapses when the water pressure becomes too great. This collapsing spectacle is part of a natural cycle that can occur once a year or sometimes less frequently, around once a decade.

Even though this collapse may not be due to climate change, scientists do say that overall the amount of glacial ice in the Patagonia region is decreasing.

Read more glacier news at GlacierHub:

Avalanche Strikes Near Russian Glacier

Greatest Snowfall on Kilimanjaro Glacier in Years

The Glacier Law Conundrum: Protecting Glaciers or Limiting Hazard Response and Adaptation?

Video of the Week: Shedding Light on Glaciers

This week, journey to New Zealand’s largest glacier as Heath Patterson captures photographers Vaughan Brookfield and Tom Lynch and their attempt to literally shine a light on the impact of climate change through visual art.

After remaining at a constant length for all of its recorded history in the 20th century, the Tasman Glacier is now in a period of retreat. Brookfield and Lynch projected images on to the rapidly receding glacier to “remind people of the effects humans are having on the environment.”

This project was made possible by Canon Australia’s “Show Us What’s Possible” creative incubator. The story was also featured in The Guardian.

Read more glacier news at GlacierHub:

The Swiftness of Glaciers: Language in a Time of Climate Change

Melting Glaciers Create Uncertain Future for Xinjiang

The Curious Case of New Zealand’s Shrinking Glaciers

Photo Friday: Vanishing Glaciers by Project Pressure

Video of the Week: Fire & Ice on the Mountain

This week, learn how religion and climate change intersect in Peru through “Fire and Ice on the Mountain,” a short documentary film by independent filmmaker and American University professor Bill Gentile.

The Huaytapallana mountain glaciers are the main water source for the Huancayo people during the melting season and spiritually significant during the Andean New Year. With the glacier melting in recent decades, the local government has doubled its conservation efforts. In the documentary, Gentile and Swedish anthropologist Karsten Paerregaard team up to find out how the melting of the glaciers impacts the Peruvian communities and their spiritual connection.

Read more glacier news at GlacierHub:

Inequality, Climate Change and Vulnerability in Peru
Glaciers Serve as a Key Habitat for Harbor Seals
Is the Department of the Interior Taking Steps to Protect Montana’s Glaciers?

Video of the Week: Ice Memory

In a bid to preserve ice cores and valuable climate information from some of the world’s most endangered glaciers, scientists are creating a global ice archive sanctuary in Antarctica. The Ice Memory project is being led by the Université Grenoble Alpes Foundation.

From Mont Blanc Massif’s Col du Dôme glacier to the Illimani glacier in Bolivia, over 400 ice cores have been retrieved to be preserved in the ice bunker.

To learn more about Ice Memory, see the video below from the Université Grenoble Alpes Foundation:

Discover more glacier news at GlacierHub:

Irrigation a Potential Driver of Glacial Advance in Asia

Glacier Researchers Gather at IPCC Meeting in Ecuador

Discovery of a Major Medieval Glacier Lake in Svalbard

Roundup: Mt. Kilimanjaro, a Glacier Ride, and Rescued Migrants

Climate Mode Activity on Kilimanjaro’s Glaciers

From Journal of Climate: “Using a case study of Kilimanjaro, we combined twelve years of convection-permitting atmospheric modelling with an eight-year observational record to evaluate the impact of climate oscillations on recent high-altitude atmospheric variability during the short rains (the secondary rain season in the region). We focus on two modes that have a well-established relationship with precipitation during this season, the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Indian Ocean Zonal Mode, and demonstrate their strong association with local and mesoscale conditions at Kilimanjaro.”

Read more about how climate mode variability contributes to changes in Kilimanjaro’s glaciers here.

Part of the rapidly receding glacier on the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa (Source: Sarah Skiold-Hanlin/Flickr).


Glacier Ride Cycling Event

From Climate Ride: “Glacier Ride is a 6-day charitable cycling event spanning two spectacular national parks and two countries — Glacier National Park on the U.S. side and Waterton National Park on the Canadian side. Glacier National Park captures the essence of what the pristine, undisturbed Rocky Mountain region has been like over thousands of years. This bike ride explores some of the wildest land in the lower 48 and an ecosystem threatened by development, climate change, and exotic species. By fundraising and participating in Glacier Ride, you are raising awareness of the issues facing Glacier and seeing first-hand what is at stake.”

Discover how you can participate in this exciting trip here.

Glacier National Park, Montana, USA (Source: Edward Stojakovic/Flickr).


Rescuing Migrants Fleeing Through the Frozen Alps

From The New York Times: “Vincent Gasquet is a pizza chef who owns a tiny shop in the French Alps. At night, he is one of about 80 volunteers who search mountain passes for migrants trying to hike from Italy to France. The migrants attempt to cross each night through sub-zero temperatures. Some wear only light jackets and sneakers, and one man recently lost his feet to frostbite. “If the Alps become a graveyard, I’ll be ashamed of myself for the rest of my life,” Mr. Gasquet said. The migrants often head for Montgenèvre, a ski town nestled against the border. France offers them more work and a chance at a better life.”

Learn more about the refugee crisis here.

Migrants travel through mountain passes trying to hike from Italy to France, heading to the small ski town of Montgenèvre, 20 km from Glacier Blanc at Barre des Ecrins. (Source: Stéphane D/Flickr).

Photo Friday: Studying Glacier Debris in the Himalayas

How does debris affect and influence glacier hydrology? And how can particulate pollution on glaciers be measured?

Kimberly Casey, a glaciologist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, studied six glacier sites around the world to understand glacier debris pollution. Her work led her from the volcanically-influenced glaciers in Iceland and New Zealand to dust-influenced glaciers in Nepal and Switzerland.

In an interview with NASA she states that the type of particulates on a glacier surface, along with the thickness of the dust and debris can affect a glacier’s melt rate. “Because glaciers are a key water resource in many parts of the world, it is important to understand how melt rates may be changing over time,” said Casey.

Her work proved that satellite data could help map out which types of particulates are on glaciers.

“From this project, I was able to establish some methods for using satellite data to map dust and debris types on any glacier around the globe. We now have a satellite record of over a decade and we can look back at how dust and debris on glaciers have changed over time and how this is affecting the melt of glaciers. Going to the field to collect samples or do measurements is expensive, and it would be hard to get to the 200,000-plus glaciers on Earth. So it’s important to use Earth-observing satellite data to quickly and efficiently map glaciers,” stated Casey.

This Photo Friday, enjoy some of the pictures that Casey took during her field trip to Ngozumpa Glacier in the Khumbu region of Nepal. For more photos from her field visits across the globe, visit the NASA Flickr page.

Heavily debris-covered section of the Ngozumpa glacier in Khumbu Himalaya, Nepal. (Source: NASA/GSFC/Kimberly Casey/Creative Commons: Flickr).


The icefall of Khumbu Glacier, considered to be one of the most dangerous spots on the South Col route to Mt. Everest’s summit, was one of Kimberly Casey’s fieldwork sites (Source: NASA/GSFC/Kimberly Casey/Creative Commons: Flickr).


Glaciologist Kimberly Casey’s guide, Sherpa Nima Sampang Rai, hikes on rocks laying on top of Ngozumpa Glacier in the Nepali Himalayas (Source: NASA/GSFC/Kimberly Casey/Creative Commons: Flickr).


Glaciologist Kimberly Casey took this photo of Mt. Everest (left peak) lit by the sunset while she was in the field at Khumbu Glacier in the Nepali Himalayas. (Source: NASA/GSFC/Kimberly Casey/ Creative Commons: Flickr)

Roundup: Separating Islands, Research Forum, and Acid Rock Drainage

Franz Josef Islands Separate due to Glacier Retreat

From A Glacier’s Perspective: “Hall and Littrow Island are two islands in the southern part of Franz Josef Land, Russia that have until 2016 been connected by glacier. Sharov et al (2014) generated a map with the MAIRES Project illustrating the glacier connection was failing… The connection between Sonklar Glacier and the neighboring glacier, at the pink arrow, has failed. The lack of sea ice in the region is exposing the marine margins of the ice caps in Franz Josef Land to enhanced melting.  This has and will lead to more coastal changes and island separations.”

Learn more about the separation here.

Hall Island (left) and Littrow Island (right) in 2002 and 2017 Landsat images. The islands are connected by a glacier in 2002 between the black arrows. The blue arrows indicate glacier flow. In 2017, the glacier connection has failed and Nordenskjold Strait has formed (Source: From a Glacier’s Perspective/AGU 100 Blogosphere).


Scientists Create Glacier Research Forum in Pakistan

From The Express Tribune: “Scientists have resolved to set up a forum which would consolidate all research studies from different institutions on glaciers in the mountainous ranges in Pakistan… “It will be a national platform for glacier research… We want to integrate their [different institutions’] studies to avoid duplications and to consolidate research work of all Pakistani institutions,” PMD Director-General, Dr. Ghulam Rasul explained to The Express Tribune.”

Learn more about this initiative here.

Baltoro Glacier in Pakistan (Source: Thsulemani/Wikimedia).


Acid Rock Drainage in Nevado Pastoruri Glacier Area in Peru

From Environmental Science and Pollution Research: “The generation of acid rock drainage (ARD) was observed in an area of Nevado Pastoruri as a result of the oxidative dissolution of pyrite-rich lutites and sandstones. These ARDs are generated as abundant pyrite becomes exposed to atmospheric conditions as a result of glacier retreat. The proglacial zone contains lagoons, springs, streams and wetlands, scant vegetation, and intense fluvioglacial erosion. This work reports a comprehensive identification and the results of sampling of the lagoons and springs belonging to the microbasin, which is the headwaters of the Pachacoto River, as well as mapping results based on the hydrochemical data obtained in our study.”

Read the full study here.

Evidence of melting at Pastoruri glacier in Northern Peru (Source: Inyucho/Creative Commons).

Restoration of Grizzly Bear Population in North Cascades Halted

Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) (Source: Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith/ Flickr).

The National Park Service has halted plans to restore the grizzly bear population in the glacier-rich North Cascades ecosystem indefinitely. As first reported in the Missoulian, the order to stop work came from the office of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, which also recently delisted the Yellowstone grizzly bear after 42 years on the Endangered Species list maintained by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. North Cascades National Park Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich told the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) that her staff had been asked to stop its development of a grizzly bear environmental impact statement, which would detail the potential environmental impacts of restoring a self-sustaining grizzly bear population to the U.S. portion of the North Cascades.

North Cascades National Park, located in the state of Washington, adjoins parkland in the Canadian province of British Columbia. It contains over 300 glaciers (the largest number of glaciers of any U.S. park outside Alaska). Grizzlies were once abundant in this diverse landscape until habitat alteration and the impact of trappers, miners and bounty hunters decimated the population by the 20th century, according to the National Park Service. It is estimated that only 10-20 grizzly bears remain in the entire North Cascades ecosystem.

The IGBC, an interagency group dedicated to ensuring viable grizzly bear populations across the United States, began grizzly bear restoration efforts in the North Cascades ecosystem in 1991. The group includes representatives from the Forest Service; the National Park Service; the Fish and Wildlife Service; representatives of state wildlife agencies; the Canadian Wildlife Service; and Native American tribes within grizzly recovery areas, among others, all involved in the process of creating a viable grizzly bear recovery plan in the region. In addition, any new federal proposal that could significantly affect the quality of the human environment requires public input and the creation of an Environmental Impact Statement.

A newsletter sent by the National Park Service (NPS) and Fish and Wildlife Service in January 2017 asked for public input on the draft Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan, with the aim to return a self-sustaining population of grizzly bears to the North Cascades. The letter stated that a grizzly bear restoration would “bode well for the ecosystem” and that “an ecosystem capable of supporting grizzly bears— complete with healthy vegetation and prey populations, and secure, remote habitat – is also capable of supporting the other species that call this ecosystem home.” It called for the public’s evaluation of alternatives to grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades ecosystem.

Grizzly bear on a rock (Source: Bauer, Erwin and Peggy/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

Grizzly bears are important for distributing nutrients in North Cascades ecosystems. The bears deposit nutrient-rich carcasses away from rivers in forests, leading to significant uptake of nutrients by trees and other plants. This transfer ultimately helps the forest ecosystems and supports the long-term productivity of river corridors. Meltwater from glaciers in the North Cascades contributes significantly to river flow, particularly in the late summer and fall. In this way, they support the salmon populations— a staple of the grizzly bear’s diet— which come upstream from the ocean in fall to spawn. The NPS and Fish and Wildlife Service have considered four alternatives to restore the grizzly population in the region, ranging from taking no action to incremental restoration, which introduces five to seven grizzly bears and establishes an initial population of 25, to expedited restoration that aims to restore a population of 200 in 25 years.According to the Missoulian, the NPS was in the process of reviewing the public comments when the stop order came. “We’re in year three of the process and all the public scoping has been done. The draft EIS went out for public review in spring [of 2017] and we’ve received about 127,000 comments,” Taylor-Goodrich told reporters on December 16, 2017. She also added that the order has stalled discussions with Canadian wildlife managers who oversee a similar recovery process in British Columbia.

A statement by Conservation Northwest on the halt claims that the majority of the 127,000 public comments received for the environmental impact statement were in support of the restoration.

“We are disappointed that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Trump Administration have put North Cascades grizzly bear recovery work on hold, siding with the local extinction of this iconic native species over the strong majority of Washingtonians who support their recovery,” said Chase Gunnell, communications director for Conservation Northwest in the statement. “Equally frustrating is that the many years of science, public education and significant taxpayer dollars that have gone into grizzly bear recovery in our region are apparently not being taken seriously by this administration…That the only remaining grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states outside the Rocky Mountains might be abandoned to such a fate by men who claim to venerate Roosevelt is downright shameful.”

However, there are some who oppose the plan. It was reported in Capital Press that a group of Okanogan County ranchers saw the restoration as introducing another apex predator that would pose a threat to their cattle. A group of residents, representatives of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe, representatives from Hampton Lumber Mill, business owners and backcountry horsemen in Darrington, a small western Washington town, also argued that reintroducing grizzlies would hurt tourism because it would close more roads to hiking and risk safety of hikers.

On December 17, 2017, The Yakima Herald also reported that Jack Oelfke, the chief of natural and cultural resources in North Cascades National Park had said that “efforts to restore grizzly bears were on hold indefinitely” and that they were “waiting for additional instructions from the Department of Interior as well as the NPS and US Fish and Wildlife Service.”

But Heather Swift, Secretary Zinke’s spokeswoman, told The Associated Press on December 19, 2017, that Zinke had not directed a stop work order on the environmental review. She did not provide further details in her statement.  No updates have been provided since then, leading plans on hold.

According to SeattlePI, Secretary Zinke is “a champion and promoter of sport hunting.” As reported by the Associated Press, Secretary Zinke is also an advocate of making changes to the national monuments under review by the Trump Administration and has already recommended that six of them be reduced in size.

However, in British Columbia, grizzlies face a different future. In that province, a ban on shooting grizzly bears has recently been imposed. “We want to promote the healthy grizzly bear viewing economy in British Columbia and give everyone the tremendous opportunities to see those incredible animals in their natural habitat,” said George Heyman, the minister of environment and climate change strategy of British Columbia, as reported in SeattlePI. It may well be that this support will help the grizzly populations to increase, in this area just to the north of the North Cascades National Park.  If policies in the US change, larger populations in the park could interbreed with Canadian bears, maintaining the health of both.

Photo Friday: Core Of Climate Science

Layer upon layer of snow, built up over thousands of years, ice cores are an archive of Earth’s past. Taken from ice sheets and glaciers, these cores are used for scientific discovery of the climate changes that Earth may have gone through.

This is the focus of Peggy Weil’s “88 cores,” a four-and-a-half hour video descent two miles through the Greenland Ice Sheet in one continuous pan that goes back more than 110,000 years. It aims to explore the intersections of polar ice, time and humanity. “88 cores” is being shown for the first time as the second part of The Climate Museum’s “In Human Time” exhibition from January 19 to February 11.

“The film is not a scientific document, but it is informed by science. Although much of the data gleaned from ice cores is invisible (analysis of gasses, ECM data) the ice itself is visually compelling. The work acknowledges the immensity and grandeur of the ice (and the human effort to understand it) as we contemplate its fragility,” states Weil.

Along with the video, still images of the ice cores will also be on display and accompanied by other artifacts and media that offers context on ice core science and the Arctic.

The exhibition is being presented in partnership with the Parsons School of Design’s Sheila Johnson Design Center at The Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries in New York on Fifth Avenue.

For more information on the exhibition and the Climate Museum, visit or

For more information on Peggy Weil, visit

Viewer observing the 88 cores film at 1 meter (Source: Peggy Weil and the US National Ice Core Lab, GISP2).


88 cores film test at -1855 meters (Source: Peggy Weil and the US National Ice Core Lab, GISP2).


Peggy Weil at the US National Ice Core Lab (Source: Peggy Weil and the US National Ice Core Lab, GISP2).



Ice core – 2129 meters below the surface (Source: Peggy Weil and the US National Ice Core Lab, GISP2).