Roundup: Iceland Tourism Unconcerned by Warming, The World’s Water Towers, Alpinism Recognized by UNESCO

Glacier Tour Operators in Iceland Aren’t Worried About Climate Change

A study of small glacier tourism operators in Iceland published in the International Journal of Biometeorology found that small and medium-scale tour operators aren’t too worried about the threat of glacier retreat and climate change to their business. From the abstract:

“The interaction of operator’s attributes of agency such as firsthand experiences, risk perceptions, and abilities to self-organize, with structural elements of the glacier destination system such as economic rationales and hazard reduction institutions, has shaped and consolidated operators’ adaptation processes in the form of a wait-and-see strategy combined with ad hoc reactive adaptation measures and postponed or prevented proactive long-term adaptation strategies.”

Read the study here.

Vatnajökull National Park in southeast Iceland (Source: Creative Commons)

Importance and Vulnerability of the World’s Water Towers

A major overview of mountains and global water supply by Walter Immerzeel was published in Nature magazine on December 9. From the abstract:

“Mountains are the water towers of the world, supplying a substantial part of both natural and anthropogenic water demands. They are highly sensitive and prone to climate change, yet their importance and vulnerability have not been quantified at the global scale. Here we present a global water tower index, which ranks all water towers in terms of their water-supplying role and the downstream dependence of ecosystems and society.”

Read the study here.

The WTI, the population in WTUs and their downstream basins (Source: Immerzeel/Nature).

UNESCO Declares Alpinism An Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Alpinists Scott Schoettgen and Orion Peck summit Mount Shasta in California in April 2019 (Image: Aaron Barnhart).

UNESCO just declared alpinism, also known as Western-style mountain climbing––the art of climbing up summits and walls in high mountains––as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. From UNESCO on the sport:

“Alpinism is a traditional, physical practice characterized by a shared culture made up of knowledge of the high-mountain environment, the history of the practice and associated values, and specific skills. Knowledge about the natural environment, changing weather conditions, and natural hazards is also essential. Alpinism is also based on aesthetic aspects: alpinists strive for elegant climbing motions, contemplation of the landscape, and harmony with the natural environment. The practice mobilizes ethical principles based on each individual’s commitment, such as leaving no lasting traces behind, and assuming the duty to provide assistance among practitioners.”

Alpinism is recognized by the UNESCO as an art :

  • of climbing mountain summits and faces by one’s own physical, technical and intellectual strengths;
  • of challenging one’s own capabilities and expertise while negotiating natural, non-artificial obstacles;
  • of evaluating and assuming measured risks;
  • of self-managing, self-responsibility and solidarity; and
  • of respecting other people and natural sites.

Read the rest of the UNESCO entry here. Read more in the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation’s press release.

Read More on GlacierHub:

‘Most Ice on Earth is Very Close to Melting Conditions’

Video of the Week: Smoke and Ash Choke Tasman Glacier in New Zealand

Glaciers in the Olympic Mountains Could Vanish by End of This Century