Roundup: Montana Glaciers, Coropuna, and Kelp Forests,

Climate Change “Dramatically” Shrinking Montana Glaciers

From The Washington Post: “A U.S. Geological Survey study documenting how climate change has “dramatically reduced” glaciers in Montana came under fire from high-level Interior Department officials last May, according to a batch of newly released records under the Freedom of Information Act, as they questioned federal scientists’ description of the decline. Doug Domenech, assistant secretary for insular areas at Interior, alerted colleagues in a May 10 email to the language the USGS had used to publicize a study documenting the shrinking of 39 glaciers in Montana since 1966. Domenech wrote to three other Interior officials, ‘This is a perfect example of them going beyond their wheelhouse.'”

Read more about the Montana glaciers here.

Trump official said scientists went ‘beyond their wheelhouse’ by writing climate change ‘dramatically’ shrank Montana glaciers (Source: Jankgo/Flickr).

Studying Glacier Loss at Coropuna in Peru

From Journal of Glaciology: “Accurate quantification of rates of glacier mass loss is critical for managing water resources and for assessing hazards at ice-clad volcanoes, especially in arid regions like southern Peru. In these regions, glacier and snow melt are crucial dry season water resources. In order to verify previously reported rates of ice area decline at Nevado Coropuna in Peru, which are anomalously rapid for tropical glaciers, we measured changes in ice cap area using 259 Landsat images acquired from 1980 to 2014. If glacier recession continues at its present rate, our results suggest that Coropuna Ice Cap will likely continue to contribute to water supply for agricultural and domestic uses until ∼2120, which is nearly 100 years longer than previously predicted.”

Learn more about Coropuna glacial loss here.

Nevado Coropuna, altitude 4710m, direction 60deg (Source: A. European).

Kelp Forests in an Arctic Fjord

From Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science: “Kelp forests are complex underwater habitats that support diverse assemblages of animals ranging from sessile filter feeding invertebrates to fishes and marine mammals. In this study, the diversity of invertebrate fauna associated with kelp holdfasts was surveyed in a high Arctic glacial fjord (76 N, Hornsund, Svalbard).”

Read more about kelp in a high Arctic glacial fjord here.

Arctic fox investigating the kelp in Svalbard (Source: Natalie Tapson/Flickr).

Roundup: Students, Seals and Skiers Visit Glaciers

Survival of a Tropical Glacier

A glacier in the Peruvian Andes is shrinking more slowly than was previously thought. Careful examination of long-term satellite images is the key. Previous research has not separated snow and ice as accurately.

William Kochtitzky, a student from Dickinson College, presented a poster about glacial changes on Peru’s Nevado Coropuna volcano. They did not experience any difficulties combining SPOT and Landsat data. They were able to acquire a SPOT image that was taken within three days of a Landsat scene, allowing us to calibrate our glacier classification scheme and have greater confidence because our SPOT and Landsat images are consistent with each other. This research has the potential for immediate policy implications in Peru.

Professor Benjamin Edwards (left) and Will Kochtitzky (right) conducted a 2015 field season at Coropuna, Peru
Professor Benjamin Edwards (left) and Will Kochtitzky (right) conducted a 2015 field season at Coropuna, Peru

Read more about the story, click here.

A Really, Really Big Problem: The Continuing Saga of Jumbo Glacier Resort

There’s a mountain resort in the East Kootenays with a mayor and a council, but without infrastructure, buildings, citizens or a tax base. If that sounds bizarre, well, it is—yet just another twist in a tale that has taken on aspects of the absurd since the idea of a ski resort in the wilderness of the Purcell Mountains first began percolating over two decades ago. Opposition was fierce then and remains so today. In fact the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort (JGR) has polarized a community perhaps more than any other major development in British Columbia—at least one involving the seemingly innocuous, fun-loving pursuit of skiing.

Karnak Peak, Jumbo Pass, BC; September

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Counting Harbor Seals in Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay National Park has historically supported one of the largest breeding aggregations of harbor seals in Alaska (Calambokidis et al. 1987). Harbor seals are an important apex predator and the most numerous marine mammal in the park; however, harbor seals have declined by up to 75% from 1992-2002 (Mathews & Pendleton 2006). The most recent trend estimates from 1992-2009 suggest that the decline in seals has not abated or reversed (Womble et al. 2010). The magnitude and rate of decline exceed all reported declines of harbor seals in Alaska, with the exception of that at Tugidak Island (Pitcher 1990). Declines of harbor seals in Glacier Bay are of concern for several reasons.

Aerial photo of harbor seals ashore at Spider Reef in the Beardslee Islands of Glacier Bay National Park. NPS

Read more about the story, click here.