Photo Friday: Rephotography Captures Mountain Change

Mountains are some of the most rapidly changing landscapes on Earth thanks to climate change and other drivers. To observe these changes within the Canadian Rockies, the Mountain Legacy Project has utilized repeat photography of images taken from past surveys. Exploring changes is as easy as traversing to the project’s website and clicking a point on the map, revealing historical images and their modern counterparts.

Check out four of these photo comparisons below, and visit the Mountain Legacy Project Explorer to discover more wonders from the full catalog.

 

Mt. Edith Cavell within Jasper National Park

 

1915 Photograph of Cavell Meadows
Photograph taken in 1915 of Mt. Edith Cavell and the Angel Glacier within Jasper National Park (Source: Mountain Legacy Project).

 

1999 Photograph of Cavell Meadows
Photograph taken in 1999 of Mt. Edith Cavell and the Angel Glacier within Jasper National Park (Source: Mountain Legacy Project).

 

Thunderbolt Peak within Jasper National Park

 

1915 Photograph of Thunderbolt Peak
Photograph taken in 1915 of Thunderbolt Peak within Jasper National Park (Source: Mountain Legacy Project).

 

1999 Photograph Thunderbolt Peak
Photograph taken in 1999 of Thunderbolt Peak within Jasper National Park (Source: Mountain Legacy Project).

 

Mt. Majestic within Jasper National Park

 

1915 Photograph of Mt. Majestic
Photograph taken in 1915 of Mt. Majestic within Jasper National Park (Source: Mountain Legacy Project).

 

1999 Photograph of Mt. Majestic
Photograph taken in 1999 of Mt. Majestic within Jasper National Park (Source: Mountain Legacy Project).

Columbia Ice-fields within Jasper National Park

Photograph of 1918 Columbia Ice-Fields
Photograph taken in 1918 of the Columbia Ice-Fields taken within Jasper National Park (Source: Mountain Legacy Project).
2011 Photograph of the Columbia Ice-Fields
Photograph taken in 2011 of the Columbia Ice-Fields within Jasper National Park (Source: Mountain Legacy Project).
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Photo Friday: Icebergs at Berg Lake

Located in Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada, Berg Lake tends to be filled with icebergs throughout the year. Visitors often see ice break off or calve into the lake, which is partially fed by Berg Glacier. Known for its glacier, floating icebergs, and bright bluish-green water, the lake is a popular destination for hikers. Berg Glacier sits atop Mount Robson, the tallest peak in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Mount Robson is part of a sub-range of the Rocky Mountains known as the Rainbow Range. Named “Tsitsutl,” meaning “painted mountains” in the local dialect, Rainbow Range is made of lava and rock that comes in hues of red, orange, lavender and yellow, noticeable on sunny days.

Mount Robson Provincial Park, including Berg Lake and Glacier, was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1990. For a visceral experience of the park, attend the 7th Annual Mount Robson Marathon to be held on September 9, 2017. The marathon will take runners up the world-renowned Berg Lake Trail. Below, you can find a video of hiker Phil Armitage on the trail.

 

Icebergs floating in Berg Lake (Source: Scott Theede/Flickr).

 

 

Berg Glacier at Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia (Source: Jeff Pang/Flickr).

 

 

South face of Mount Robson (Source: Jeff Pang/Flickr).

 

 

Overlander Falls in Mount Robson Provincial Park (Source: Guenter Wieschendahl/Creative Commons).

 

 

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Roundup: Climate Change and Algae Impact Rivers

Each week, we highlight three stories from the forefront of glacier news.

Climate Cycles Influence River Flows in Pacific Northwest

From Advances in Water Research:

“We evaluate interannual flow variability in three transboundary PCTR [Pacific Coast Temperate Rainforest] watersheds in response to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Arctic Oscillation (AO), and North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO)…We find that streamflow teleconnections occur over particular seasonal windows reflecting the intersection of specific atmospheric and terrestrial hydrologic processes…The strongest signal is a snowmelt-driven flow timing shift resulting from ENSO- and PDO-associated temperature anomalies. Autumn rainfall runoff is also modulated by these climate modes, and a glacier-mediated teleconnection contributes to a late-summer ENSO-flow association.”

The Stikine flows through British Columbia and Alaska and is one of the main rivers that was studied for impacts of climate cycles. Credit: Flickr user Christine and Kevin.
The Stikine, one of the main rivers that was studied for impacts of climate cycles. Credit: Flickr user Christine and Kevin.

Click here to read the article.

 

Himalayan Region Water Resources Reviewed

From  Water Resources Development and Management:

“The Himalayas, Hindu Kush, Karakorum mountains and the Tibetan Plateau make up the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region, an area that has more snow and ice resources than any other region outside of the Polar Regions… The HKH region extends 3500 km over all or part of eight countries from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east. About 200 million people live in the HKH mountains, while 1.3 billion people depend directly or indirectly on waters that originate in the mountains in 10 major river basins. These mountains are under threat from climate change and other socio-economic changes that will pose a challenge for Asia’s future. This chapter reviews the state of knowledge concerning the mountain’s water resources, draws out implications for downstream users, and recommends key actions to be taken.”

Ramukund lies at confluence of two Himlayan rivers that form the Ganges. Source: Arun Katiyar/Fickr.
Ramukund lies at confluence of two Himlayan rivers that form the Ganges. Source: Arun Katiyar/Fickr.
Click here to read the article.

 

 

Canadian Rocky Mountain Streams Experience Algal Blooms

From Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences:

“The first documented bloom of Didymosphenia geminata in Alberta occurred in 2003 and subsequent field investigations revealed that D. geminata was present in the periphyton of a number of lotic systems, yet did not always form blooms. We sampled 76 sites in Canadian Rocky Mountain National Parks, chosen to provide ranges in exposure to D. geminata propagules and environmental conditions thought to affect D. geminata growth and bloom formation…. D. geminata was detected at 88% of sites and of those, 34% had blooms, defined as visible mats of D. geminata stalks.”

The algae forms into sticky films and sheets, leading to the nickname "rock snot." Credit: Drew Brayshaw/Flickr,
The algae forms into sticky films and sheets, leading to the nickname “rock snot.” Credit: Drew Brayshaw/Flickr,
Click here to read the article.
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Photo Friday: A Glacial Fear of Heights

Deep in the Canadian Rockies a glass walkway has been constructed extending ninety feet off a sudden cliff edge. The Glacier Skywalk opened in May of this year, and allows you to walk out into the empty space off the cliff’s edge and enjoy panoramic views of Jasper National Park in Alberta. Engineered by Simon J. Brown and John Kooymans with Read Jones Christoffersen Engineering, and designed by Sturgess Architecture, the walkway made out of glass, wood, and steel, and supported by an intricate cable support system, blends into the natural environment and appears to suspend itself in midair with no obvious foundation. Standing on the glass bend almost eight hundred fifty feet above the Sunwapta valley floor you might even feel a little like a mountain glacier high above the wilderness. Photographers Eva Kurilova and Marc Roy provide some images.

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 glacierhub@gmail.com.

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After 100 Years of Glacier Loss, Alberta Braces for Erratic Water Flow

Overlooking the town of Banff, Alberta in the Canadian Rockies, with Bow River flowing across the town. Taken at the top of the Sulphur Mountain. (Photo: Yuanrong Zhou)
Overlooking the town of Banff, Alberta in the Canadian Rockies, with Bow River flowing across the town. Taken at the top of the Sulphur Mountain. (Photo: Yuanrong Zhou)

When I travelled to Banff National Park in Alberta last summer, I was impressed by the high white peaks of the Canadian Rockies. Locals joked that those who want to see the snowy, icy mountains should hurry, because such beautiful landscapes may soon cease to exist due to global warming. Sadly, what the local people said is true. A recent study suggests that glaciers along the eastern side of the Canadian Rockies will lose 80-90% of their volume by 2100.

“Temperature rise isn’t something you can see. But a glacier melting is something everybody can see,” Michael Zemp, director at the World Glacier Monitoring Service told National Geographic magazine in 2006, when discussing glacial loss in the Alps.

The majestic snowy crowns I spied in Banff form the Peyto glacier, situated at the headwater of the Mistaya River, which merges with the North Saskatchewan River at Saskatchewan Crossing. It happens to be a reference site for the World Glacier Monitoring Service, a Zurich-based organization which gathers and distributes standardized data on glacier fluctuation. In its latest report WGMS noted that Peyto is losing 3.5 million cubic meters of water every year. That kind of volume of water can sustain a city with a population of 1.2 million, such as Calgary, for one day. Cumulatively, 70 percent of the Peyto Glacier ice mass melted since the mid-19th century, when scientists first began watching it.

Peyto Glacier at 1896, taken by Walter Wilcox. (Source: PARC Project P55 Report)
Peyto Glacier at 1896, taken by Walter Wilcox. (Source: PARC Project P55 Report)

Meltwater from glaciers on the eastern slope of the Canadian Rockies, including Peyto Glacier, supply both the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers, which flow into the Canadian Prairie Provinces – Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, to support municipal, industrial, as well as agricultural usages. With the dramatic retreat of glaciers along the east side, like Peyto Glacier, the two Saskatchewan River basins have seen significant declines in flow. In particular, the mean annual flow of Bow River at the South Saskatchewan River basin, which passes through Alberta, has decreased by 11.5 percent since 1910.

With melt season occurring earlier and earlier each year, spring floods have become more common, while water supply is low during the summer months, just when it is most needed. Specifically, the spring flow in Bow River has increased by 15.2 percent since 1910, though the annual flow has declined. Consequently, Alberta has experienced severe floods successively in June 2013 and June 2014 due to intensive precipitation as well as early snowmelt.

Heavy rain combined with earlier glacier melt into both the Elbow river and the Bow river flooded Calgary, Alberta in late June 2013. (Wayne Stadler/Flickr)
Heavy rain combined with earlier glacier melt into both the Elbow river and the Bow river flooded Calgary, Alberta in late June 2013. (Wayne Stadler/Flickr)

“In the last twelve years, the Prairie Provinces have seen the worst drought and the worst flooding since the settlement of western Canada,” John Pomeroy, director of the Center for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan, told Yale Environment 360 earlier this year.

To adapt to future changes in water flows, new water management systems have been implemented in Alberta. In 2010, the Bow River Project was launched to analyze the Bow River System. Ultimately, scientists on the project recommended developing integrated management of the water system. Most recently, in March, the Bow River Project submitted its final report, Bow Basin Flood Mitigation and Watershed Management Project, which recommended measures that might prevent devastating floods in the region. In particular, the report proposed wetland storage and restoration of natural rivers to prevent future melt-related floods like those recently seen in Alberta.

But these are measures of adaptation rather than prevention. They won’t do anything to stop Peyto and glaciers like it from disappearing. Keeping these glaciers alive will take a different kind of effort, though I may not be around in 2100 to see what happens.

 

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Photo Friday: Mt. Baker and the North Cascades

Emily Gibson runs a blog called Barnstorming, about rural life on a farm in northwest Washington. Her pictures feature Mt. Baker, North Cascades and the Canadian Rockies in many different lights.

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 glacierhub@gmail.com.

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