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

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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

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