Roundup: Snow Algae, Dams in Ecuador, and Patagonia’s Cashmere

Snow Algae and Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

From Science Direct: “Most of what is known about snow algae communities has been learned from studies centered on glaciers and snowfields located on sedimentary or metamorphic bedrock, but little is known about snow algae systems hosted in volcanic bedrock (Hamilton and Havig, 2017). Recent work has quantified primary productivity as predominantly phototrophically mediated, and demonstrated inorganic carbon limitation of primary productivity by snow algae communities on PNW glaciers (Hamilton and Havig, 2017Hamilton and Havig, 2018) suggesting increasing productivity with increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations.”

Read more about the study here.

Pink Snow Algae (Source: James St John /Flickr)


From the New York Times: “This giant dam in the jungle, financed and built by China, was supposed to christen Ecuador’s vast ambitions, solve its energy needs, and help lift the small South American country out of poverty. Instead, it has become part of a national scandal engulfing the country in corruption, perilous amounts of debt—and a future tethered to China. Nearly every top Ecuadorean official involved in the dam’s construction is either imprisoned or sentenced on bribery charges. That includes a former vice president, a former electricity minister and even the former anti-corruption official monitoring the project, who was caught on tape talking about Chinese bribes.”

Read more about China’s role in Ecuadorian dam construction here.

Ecuador’s Coca Codo Sinclair Dam (Source: Ministerio de Turismo Ecuador/Flickr)

Recycled Cashmere Sweaters by Patagonia

From Business Insider: “The process of creating cashmere is so inherently detrimental—requiring lots of resources and incurring lots of environmental degradation—that any claim of sustainability is pretty much moot. It may make us happy to have, but it sure isn’t preserving the grasslands of Mongolia. Patagonia’s cashmere line is the best no-compromise option I’ve found. Each piece is made out of 95 percent cashmere scraps collected from European garment factories, plus 5 percent virgin wool for strength. Altogether, it’s a line of durable, warm, guilt-free cashmere sweaters, hats, and scarves with way less ecological impact, plus the added benefit of Patagonia-level quality and design. You can also view “The Footprint Chronicles” to learn about their supply chain and the sewing factory that made your sweater.”

Read more about Patagonia’s cashmere sweaters here

Patagonia Logo (Source: /Wikimedia)


Read More on Glacier Hub:

Ecuador Presents High Mountain Projects at World Water Week

“Red Snow” Algae Accelerating Glacier Melt in the Arctic

“Reconstructing Norway’s Oldest Garment: The Tunic of Lendbreen



Roundup: Chemistry, Dams and Elevations

Roundup: Meltwater Chemistry, Hydroelectric Dams and Glacier Elevation


Diurnal Changes in the Chemistry of Glacier Meltwater

From Chemosphere: “An evaluation of glacial meltwater chemistry is needed under recent dramatic glacier melting when water resources might be significantly impacted. This study investigated trace elements variation in the meltwater stream, and its related aquatic environmental information, at the Laohugou glacier basin (4260 m a.s.l.) at a remote location in northeast Tibetan Plateau… Results showed evident elements spatial difference on the glacier surface meltwater, as most of the elements showed increased concentration at the terminus compared to higher elevations sites… The accelerated diurnal and temporal snow-ice melting (with high runoff level) were correlated to increased elemental concentration, pH, EF (enrichment factor,the minimum factor by which the weight percent of mineral in is greater than the average occurrence of that mineral in the Earth’s crust) and elemental change mode, and thus this work is of great importance for evaluating the impacts of accelerated glacier melting to meltwater chemistry and downstream ecosystem in the northeast Tibetan Plateau.”

Read more about it here.

Accelerated melting affects the chemistry of glacier meltwater streams (Source: Shayon Ghosh/Creative Commons)
Accelerated melting affects the chemistry of glacier meltwater streams (Source: Shayon Ghosh/Creative Commons)


Locals Oppose Dam Construction in the North Western Himalayas

From the International Journal of Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Studies: “Since early 1970s dam development projects witnessed severe opposition in India. The remote tribal groups and rural population rejected the idea of large scale displacement, land alienation, economic insecurity and endless suffering that came along with ‘development’ projects… In recent past the construction of hydroelectricity projects has faced severe opposition in the tribal regions in Himachal Pradesh. The locals in Kinnaur are facing numerous socio-economic and environmental consequences of these constructions in fragile Himalayan ecology… More than 30 hydro projects proposed in Lahaul & Spiti are also being challenged by the people in Chenab valley… The paper summarises the ongoing struggle and diverse implications added with climate change in the rural structures.”

Read more about local opposition to these projects here.

Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Plant in Kinnaur (Source: Sumit Mahar/Creative Commons).
Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Plant in Kinnaur (Source: Sumit Mahar/Creative Commons).


Uneven Changes in Ice Sheet Elevation in West Antarctica

From Geophysical Research Letters: “We combine measurements acquired by five satellite altimeter missions to obtain an uninterrupted record of ice sheet elevation change over the Amundsen Sea Embayment, West Antarctica, since 1992… Surface lowering has spread slowest (<6 km/yr) along the Pope, Smith, and Kohler (PSK) Glaciers, due to their small extent. Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is characterized by a continuous inland spreading of surface lowering, notably fast at rates of 13 to 15 km/yr along tributaries draining the southeastern lobe, possibly due to basal conditions or tributary geometry… Ice-dynamical imbalance across the sector has therefore been uneven during the satellite record.”

Read more about the changes in ice sheet elevation here.

The calving front of Pine Island Glacier (Source: NASA/Creative Commons).
The calving front of Pine Island Glacier (Source: NASA/Creative Commons).

Roundup: How Glaciers Affect and Are Affected By Water

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

Totten Glacier Hurtles Towards Retreat and Possible Collapse

Totten Glacier catchment area in blue. (Source: Australian Antarctic Division)
Totten Glacier catchment area in blue. (Source: Australian Antarctic Division)

From Nature:

Satellite-based observations indicate that the margin of Totten Glacier may be experiencing greater ice loss than anywhere else in East Antarctica. This, coupled with the presence of low-lying subglacial basins upstream means the Totten Glacier catchment area could be at risk of substantial ice loss under ocean-warming conditions.

Learn more about the processes causing this retreat and the potential sea level rise associated with it.


Are Dams the Glaciers of Tomorrow?

European Alps, the area of interest for this study. (Source: Atibordee Kongprepan/ Flickr)
European Alps, the area of interest for this study. (Source: Atibordee Kongprepan/Flickr)

From Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL:

“Water management in reservoirs could substantially mitigate future summer water shortages, expected as a consequence of ongoing glacier retreat, researchers report. The team simulated the effect of climatic change on glaciers across the European Alps and estimated that two thirds of the effect on seasonal water availability could be avoided when storing water in areas becoming ice free.”

Find out how these researchers suggest dealing with glacier retreat and water supplies.

Scientists Present New Research on Tibet’s Climate Risks

Gurdomangar Lake on the Tibetan Plateau. (Source: Pradeep Kumbhashi/Flickr)
Gurdomangar Lake on the Tibetan Plateau. (Source: Pradeep Kumbhashi/Flickr)

From The Columbus Dispatch:

“A consortium of scientists from around the world have gathered in Columbus at Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center for the first U.S. meeting about climate issues facing the Tibetan Plateau, a region that includes about 100,000 square kilometers of glaciers that provide drinking water to nearly a third of the Earth’s people.”

Read more about the importance of the Tibetan Plateau and why these scientists feel action is so urgently needed.