Roundup: Volcanic glaciers, Egypt, and Air Force recovery

Mount St. Helens, still steaming, holds the world’s newest glacier

Mount St. Helens Crater Glacier

“‘Few people realize,’ says Ray Yurkewycz, operations director for the nonprofit Mount St. Helens Institute), ‘that the hollowed-out crater where lava was flowing just a few years ago now holds the world’s youngest glacier. And if that’s not surprising enough, the prosaically named Crater Glacier is also growing at a time when most glaciers around the globe are in rapid retreat.”

Read more here.

Why Egypt Is So Vulnerable To Melting Glaciers And Rising Seas

Egypt's Low-lying Coasts “With its densely populated coasts and low-lying agricultural areas, Egypt is one of the most vulnerable countries to rising sea levels. According to World Bank data, a one-meter rise in the sea level would inundate a quarter of the Nile Delta and force 10.5 million people from their homes. Rising sea waters would also leave the soil in many of Egypt’s traditional agricultural areas unfit for planting, destroy critical wetland habitats, wipe out coastal industry and tourism infrastructure, and possibly intrude on fresh water aquifers.”

Read more here.

Glacier slowly reveals evidence of 1952 C-124 crash

Aircraft debris from the 1952 accident“This summer is the fourth that U.S. troops and civilians have combed Colony Glacier in Alaska to recover wreckage and identify 52 service members aboard a C-124 Globemaster II that crashed in 1952… [Every summer since the mission’s start in 2012], military members and civilians have returned to the crash site to remove debris and human remains. The glacier moves between 200 and 300 meters each year, and as it recedes, more of the wreckage becomes exposed, Cocker told Air Force Times on July 1. There’s no way to tell how long it will take for all the wreckage to become unearthed.”
Read more here

Photo Friday: The Science Behind Blood Falls’ Unusual Coloring

This Photo Friday, enjoy stunning photos of Blood Falls – an unusual glacial tongue off of Taylor Glacier in East Antarctica. Far from the typical, pristinely white colors of glaciers, Blood Falls sports a trickling red tongue, sometimes invoking its namesake in blood red, other times in a fainter, more subtle burnt orange. Check out the photos below.

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Blood Falls’ unruly color is caused not by red algae, as early Antarctic pioneers once believed, but by iron-rich, hypersaline water buried deep below the glacier. This saltwater originates in a subglacial pool (of unknown size) that sits below thick, 400 meter-thick ice. This iron- and salt-rich water sporadically emerges from small fissures in the thick ice. Upon contact with air, the iron ions immediately oxidize, which creates their vibrant, red color. Check out this article from Science Daily and Ohio State University for a more detailed explanation. 

Griffith Taylor, an Australian geologist that was the first to explore (and name) the Taylor Valley region, discovered Blood Falls in 1911.

Roundup: Snowmaking Guns, Antarctic Ice, and Black Carbon

Ski Resort’s New Snowmaking Guns 

Describing a major ski resort in British Columbia, Canada: “De Jong says that after commercial operations end in July, four snowmaking guns and other infrastructure will be installed. It is expected to be used beginning in October. ‘If the pilot project is conclusive, this unique project will become a significant addition to Whistler Blackcomb’s list of adaptations to ensure long-term resilience against climate change,’ he said.”

Read here for more info.

Horstman Glacier
Horstman Glacier at Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort (Courtesy of Flickr user tyleringram)

Sudden and Rapid Ice Loss Discovered in Antarctica

“Several massive glaciers in the southern Antarctic Peninsula suddenly started to crumble in 2009, a new study reports today (May 21) in the journal Science. ‘Out of the blue, it’s become the second most important contributor to sea level rise in Antarctica,’ said lead study author Bert Wouters, a remote sensing expert and Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.”

Read here for more info.

Calving Antarctic Glacier

Study uses ice cores to estimate biomass burnings’ contributions to black carbon

Muztagh Ata
Muztagh Ata (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

“We analyzed refractory black carbon (rBC) in an ice core spanning 1875–2000 AD from Mt. Muztagh Ata, the Eastern Pamirs [of western China], using a Single Particle Soot Photometer (SP2)…. Mean rBC concentrations increased four-fold since the mid-1970s and reached maximum values at end of the 1980s. The observed decrease of the rBC concentrations during the 1990s was likely driven by the economic recession of former USSR countries in Central Asia. Levoglucosan concentrations showed a similar temporal trend to rBC concentrations, exhibiting a large increase around 1980 AD followed by a decrease in the 1990s that was likely due to a decrease in energy-related biomass combustion. The time evolution of levoglucosan/rBC ratios indicated stronger emissions from open fires during the 1940s–1950s, while the increase in rBC during the 1980s–1990s was caused from an increase in energy-related combustion of biomass and fossil fuels.”

Read here for more info.

PhotoFriday: NASA Views Greenland Glaciers From Above

NASA’s Operation IceBridge is finishing up its seventh annual campaign surveying Arctic ice levels. The operation has run biannual polar expeditions, one to the Arctic and the other to the Antarctic, each year since its formation in 2009. This year’s spring survey of the Arctic wrapped up on May 22.

While Operation IceBridge uses advanced remote sensing technologies to measures ice levels, IceBridge scientist John Sonntag captured a few stunning shots of glacial moulins and crevassing during a Greenland expedition.

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NASA states IceBridge’s mission is to “yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice.” Annual data collected from IceBridge also helps to provide continuous polar ice data throughout the gap in data collection during NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat), which has not collected data since 2010. The satellite’s successor, ICESat-2, will not begin data collection until 2017.

In an article for NASA’s Earth Observatory, IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger cited the importance of IceBridge in improving sea level rising forecasts, especially for influential annual reports such as from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He said, “IceBridge exists because we need to understand how much ice the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will contribute to sea level rise over the next couple of decades. In order to do this, we need to measure how much the ice surface elevation is changing from year to year.”

You can click here to explore some of IceBridge’s data and findings. To read more about moulins, check out this GlacierHub article about moulin ice caves.

Photo Friday highlights photo essays and collections from areas with glaciers. If you have photos you’d like to share, let us know in the comments, by Twitter @glacierhub or email us at