Roundup: Ice911, Glacier Tourism in New Zealand, and Ice Stupas

A novel approach to fighting climate change

From the Daily Mail:

“A newly devised type of silica bead could help save melting glaciers from the onslaught of climate change, scientists say.

The innovative new approach, developed by a company called Ice911, employs minuscule beads of ‘glass’ which are spread across the surface layer of glaciers.

There they help to reflect light beating down on them and slow what has become a tremendous pace of melt throughout the last several years.

‘I just asked myself a very simple question: Is there a safe material that could help replace that lost reflectivity?’ Found of Ice911, Leslie Field, told Mother Jones.”

Read more here.

Ice911’s silica beads could increase the albedo of glacier surfaces, helping to stave off melting. (Source: Ice911)

Investigating the impact of glacier melt on tourism

From the Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism:

“Aoraki Mount Cook National Park in the New Zealand Southern Alps attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. However, this iconic alpine destination is changing due to rapid glacial recession. To explore the implications of environmental change on visitor experience, this study adopted a mixed-methods approach, combining geophysical measurement with visitor surveys (n = 400) and semi-structured interviews with key informants (n = 12) to explore the implications of environmental change on visitor experience. We found the key drawcard to the park is Aoraki the mountain, with the glaciers playing a secondary role. Visitors had a strong awareness of climate change, but somewhat ironically, one of the key adaptive strategies to maintaining mountain access has been an increase in the use of aircraft. Opportunities exist for a strengthening of geo-interpretation in the park that not only educates but also encourages people towards more sustainable life choices.”

Read the study here.

Blue Lake in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in the South Island, New Zealand (Source: Krzysztof Golik/Wikimedia Commons)

The politics of place

From the journal Water Alternatives:

“Jeff Malpasʼ concept of place as a bounded, open, and emergent structure is used in this article to understand the reasons for the differences in villagersʼ responses to ‘artificial glaciers’, or ‘Ice stupas’, built in two different places in the Himalayan village of Phyang, in Ladakh. Using archival material, geographic information system tools and ethnographic research, this study reveals how Phyang as a village is constituted by interacting ecological-technical, socio-symbolic, and bureaucratic-legal boundaries. It is observed that technologies such as land revenue records, and cadastral maps, introduced in previous processes of imperialist state formation, continue to inform water politics in this Himalayan region. It is further demonstrated how this politics is framed within the village of Phyang, but also shifts its boundaries to create the physical, discursive, and symbolic space necessary for projects like the Ice stupa to emerge. By examining the conflict through the lens of place, it is possible to identify the competing discursive frames employed by different stakeholders to legitimise their own projects for developing the arid area (or Thang) where the contested Ice stupa is located. Such an analysis allows critical water scholarship to understand both how places allow hydrosocial relationships to emerge, and how competing representations of place portray these relationships. Understanding the role of place in the constitution of hydrosocial relationships allows for a more nuanced appraisal of the challenges and opportunities inherent in negotiating development interventions aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change. It is also recommended that scholars studying primarily the institutional dimensions of community-managed resource regimes consider the impact on these institutions of technological artefacts such as the high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes used to construct the Ice stupas.”

Read the study here.

Ice stupas near Phyang monastery in Ladakh (Source: Sumita Roy Dutta/Wikimedia Commons)

Read more on GlacierHub:

Photo Friday: Inside the Final Negotiations of the IPCC’s Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere

Pakistan Could Be Left High and Dry Even If Nations Achieve Paris Climate Targets

Antarctic Fungi Provides a Window into the Past and Future

Roundup: UNESCO Glaciers, Ice Stupas, and an Alexander von Humboldt Graphic Novel

Melting Glaciers in UNESCO World Heritage Sites

A recent study published in the journal Earth’s Future presents the first ever inventory of glaciers in UNESCO World heritage sites. The study authors identified 19,000 glaciers across 46 sites, studied their current state, and projected their changes in mass by 2100. The researchers found that “except for the mostly balanced conditions modeled for Heard and McDonald Islands (Antarctic Islands), substantial ice loss will occur in all natural World Heritage sites.” The study compares glaciers to umbrella species because “their conservation will automatically allow and imply the conservation of other features threatened by global warming” and to keystone species “because of their disproportionately large impacts on nature and societies on Earth.”

The study highlights that “the safeguarding of these iconic and important natural features could mobilize global‐scale conservation and mitigation benefits. As for all glaciers and ice sheets on Earth, their preservation reinforces the compelling priority for strong and rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and thereby a deep modification of human impacts on the climate.”

The Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland is the largest glacier in the Alps and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Source: Matt R/ Flickr)

Artificial Glaciers in the Himalayas

The New Yorker looks at the proliferation of artificial glaciers in the Himalayas: “The first ice stupa was created in 2013, in Ladakh, in Kashmir. Villages in Ladakh, a high mountain-desert region bordered by the Himalayas, largely depend on glacial runoff for water. As the glaciers recede, owing to climate change, the flow of water has become more erratic. Sometimes there’s too much, producing flashflooding; often, there’s too little. The ice stupa, a kind of artficial glacier, is the brainchild of a Ladakhi engineer named Sonam Wangchuk.”

An ice stupa in the Indian state of Ladakh. 
(Source: Chris Hickley/ Flickr)

Graphic Novel Looks at Alexander von Humboldt’s Expeditions

Author Andrea Wulf and artist Lillian Melcher worked together to create The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt.

From the New York Botanical Garden: “Focusing on Humboldt’s five-year expedition in South America, Wulf and Melcher incorporate pages of his own diaries, sketches, drawings, and maps to create an intimate portrait of the radical ecologist who predicted human-induced climate change and fashioned poetic narrative out of scientific observation.

Driven by his conviction that the world was a single, interconnected organism, Humboldt was the first to note similarities among climate zones across the world. His work turned scientific observation into poetic narrative that influenced great minds from Goethe to Darwin and Thoreau.”

Read more on GlacierHub:

Measuring the Rise and Fall of New Zealand’s Small and Medium Glaciers

Photo Friday: New Zealand’s Tasman Glacier

The Curious Case of New Zealand’s Shrinking Glaciers