The GlacierHub News Report is a bi-monthly video news report that features some of our website’s top stories. This week’s newscast is special because managing editor Ben Orlove is joining our newscast. We will be presenting stories ranging from the IPCC to glaciers in Russia to a tradition of citizen climate science and even controversial lands in India.
This week’s news report features:
Glacier Researchers Gather at IPCC Meeting in China
By: Ben Orlove
The authors of a major IPCC report on oceans and the cryosphere gathered in Lanzhou, China, in July 2018. They discussed the reviews which the first draft of the report had received. They also planned the next steps to advance the report.
Debris-Covered Glaciers Advance in Remote Kamchatka
By: Andrew Angle
Summary: On the remote Kamchatka Penisula in Eastern Russia, most glaciers are retreating due to climate change. However, in one area, some glaciers have advanced due to volcanic debris on top of the ice that has limited melting.
Amid High-Tech Alternatives, a Reckoning for Iceland’s Glacier Keepers
By: Gloria Dickie
Summary: It may be one of the longest-running examples of citizen climate science in the world. With Iceland’s glaciers at their melting point, these men and women— farmers, schoolchildren, a plastic surgeon, even a Supreme Court judge— serve not only as the glaciers’ guardians, but also their messengers.
War Against Natural Disasters: A Fight the Indian Military Can’t Win
By: Sabrina Ho
Summary: Ladakh is frequently exposed to floods and landslides when snow and glaciers melt. A recent paper warns of the current nature of a military-led disaster governance, including heavy military presence, in disaster risk reduction.
Everest Climbing Route at Risk from Climate Change
From The Washington Post: “As climbers begin to reach the summit of Mount Everest, some veterans are avoiding the Nepali side of the world’s highest peak because melting ice and crowds have made its famed Khumbu Icefall too dangerous… Several veteran climbers and well-respected Western climbing companies have moved their expeditions to the northern side of the mountain in Tibet in recent years, saying rising temperatures and inexperienced climbers have made the icefall more vulnerable. Research by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development shows that the Khumbu glacier is retreating at an average of 65 feet per year, raising the risk of avalanche.”
From Variety: “‘Arctic,’ a notably quiet and captivating slow-build adventure film, starring Mads Mikkelsen as a researcher-explorer who has crash-landed in the frozen wilderness, is the latest example of a genre we know in our bones, one that feels so familiar it’s almost comforting. It’s another solo-survival movie, one more tale of a shipwrecked soul that derives its spirit and design from the mythic fable of the form, ‘Robinson Crusoe.’ The challenge of watching a stranded man toil away on his own, of course, is that it seems, on the surface, to be inherently undramatic. That’s why nearly every one of these movies has had a buried hook, a way of turning a barren situation into compulsively watchable and suspenseful storytelling. “Robinson Crusoe” (the novel, published in 1719, and its various film versions) set the template by presenting its tale as one of human ingenuity — in essence, it prophesied the Industrial Revolution in the form of a stripped-down one-man show. “Cast Away” had Wilson the soccer ball and Tom Hanks’ plucky enterprise. “127 Hours” had James Franco, as a hiker trapped in a rocky wedge, nattering into his video camera. “All Is Lost,” set on a sailboat adrift at sea, had Robert Redford’s finely aging regret and his character’s technical instincts. “Robinson Crusoe” had Friday.”
Study Examines Plants Exposed Due to Glacial Retreat
From the Journal of Plant Research: “To examine carbon allocation, nitrogen acquisition and net production in nutrient-poor conditions, we examined allocation patterns among organs of shrub Alnus fruticosa at a young 80-year-old moraine in Kamchatka… Since the leaf mass isometrically scaled to root nodule mass, growth of each individual occurred at the leaves and root nodules in a coordinated manner. It is suggested that their isometric increase contributes to the increase in net production per plant for A. fruticosa in nutrient-poor conditions.”
On October 10 at 11:30 p.m., an explosion rocked the Kamchatka Peninsula in northeast Russia, where it is reported that Sheveluch, an active, glacier-covered volcano, has erupted. There are a number of glacier-covered volcanos in the region, but the Sheveluch is one of the largest volcanic structures in the Kamchatka. A plume of ashes rose to at least 8,000 meters and was reportedly spotted later 180 km to the north. Ash eruptions can negatively impact international flights, which routinely fly over the area. The Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team, KVERT, reports an activation color of orange, with the explosive-extrusive eruption of the volcano continuing and threats of “ash explosions up to 32,800-49,200 ft (10-15 km) a.s.l.” that could occur at any time.
The Kamchatka Peninsula in Far East Russia is an isolated region known for its glacier-volcano interactions that can lead to powerful natural disasters— and also, visually stunning images when lava impacts ice. One of these volcanoes, Sheveluch, has been erupting in recent weeks, creating local hazards. The volcano’s ash cloud, for one, threatens to disrupt air traffic in the region.
In total, Kamchatka is home to 160 volcanoes, 29 of which are currently active. These volcanoes— six of which are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites— are tall and far enough north to harbor glaciers. As such, they are associated with lahars, devastating mudslides down the slopes of a volcano triggered by an eruption and melting glaciers. These mudslides move quickly, destroying most of the structures in their path.
Avachinsky is one active volcano in the region that is covered in glaciers, placing the surrounding region at a greater risk for lahars. Avachinsky is classified as a stratovolcano, which is a volcano that has been built up by alternate layers of lava and ash. It is the volcano closest to the state capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
“The Avachinsky volcano is glacierized, and the melting of ice poses a serious lahar threat the next time the volcano is active,” Ben Edwards, a volcanologist and professor at Dickinson College, warns. Edwards explained to GlacierHub that there are many deposits mapped out that are indicative of past lahars.
Previous lahars in the Kamchatka Peninsula have been devastating with high human death tolls. The Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia, for example, erupted in 1985, producing a lahar that killed 23,000 people.
“They are incredible forces of nature and also brutally destructive and deadly,” said Janine Krippner, a PhD candidate in volcanology and remote sensing at the University of Pittsburgh, in an interview with GlacierHub.
The Klyuchevskaya Sopka stratovolcano is the highest mountain on the peninsula and the highest active volcano in Eurasia. In November 2016 and more recently in January, the volcano spewed ash six kilometers above sea level. Such an ash cloud can disrupt international travel. Klyuchevskaya has produced notable lahars in the past including one particularly damaging one in 1993, according to Edwards.
The position of a glacier on a volcano can influence the risk of a lahar. However, there is still much research needed on past lahars at Klyuchevskaya to better understand risk, notes Edwards.
“Many volcanoes have glaciers up high, but those close to Klyuchevskaya are on the western lower flank,” explained Edwards. “There have probably been some interactions and definitely lahars generated from historic flows. But these eruptions have not been well documented.” Higher regions, which tend to be cooler and moister, are more likely to form glaciers.
Sheveluch Peak is a very active volcano, and the largest on the peninsula at 1,300 cubic kilometers in volume. Many glacier-volcano interactions have occurred at the location, releasing great quantities of steam and creating fantastic imagery for photographers.
Similar volcano-snow interactions also take place elsewhere on the peninsula, especially during the winter, according to Edwards. “We saw spectacular examples during the 2012-13 Tolbachik eruption,” he said.
The World Heritage website, which features several of the Kamchatka Peninsula volcanoes, makes special note of the “dynamic landscape of great beauty” created by the interplay of active volcanoes and glacier forms. In addition, the peninsula has a wide diversity of species including brown bears, sea otters and the world’s largest variety of salmon fish. It is also known for a wide variety of birds from falcons to eagles that are attracted to the spawning salmon populations.
“Volcanism probably also interacted with regional ice caps during the Pleistocene,” Edwards explained. “But very little work has been done on this in Kamchatka so far. There is room for this type of work in the future.”
Volcanoes can help glaciers in one way: the ash and soot they emit reflects sunlight away from Earth, helping to cool the warming climate. However, volcanoes currently pose significant risk from lahars to destructive lava and ash. Scientists must continue to observe volcanoes to help reduce these hazards and improve early warning systems.
From KVERT: “The Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) monitors 30 active volcanoes of Kamchatka and six active volcanoes of Northern Kuriles [both in Russia]. Not all of these volcanoes had eruptions in historical time; however, they are potentially active and therefore are of concern to aviation... In Russia, KVERT, on behalf of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (IVS), is responsible for providing information on volcanic activity to international air navigation services for the airspace users.” Many of these volcanoes are glacier-covered, and the interactions between lava and ice can create dramatic ice plumes. Sheveluch Volcano currently has an orange aviation alert, with possible “ash explosions up to 26,200-32,800 ft (8-10 km) above sea level… Ongoing activity could affect international and low-flying aircraft.”
Read more about the volcanic warnings here, or check out GlacierHub’s collection of photos from the eruption of Klyuchevskoy.
New Insights Into Seismic Activity Caused by Glaciers
In Reviews of Geophysics: “New insights into basal motion, iceberg calving, glacier, iceberg, and sea ice dynamics, and precursory signs of unstable glaciers and ice structural changes are being discovered with seismological techniques. These observations offer an invaluable foundation for understanding ongoing environmental changes and for future monitoring of ice bodies worldwide… In this review we discuss seismic sources in the cryosphere as well as research challenges for the near future.”
From TheThirdPole.net: An interview with Chhewang Rinzin, the managing director of Bhutan’s Druk Green Power Corporation, reveals the multifaceted challenges involved in hydropower projects in Bhutan. These challenges include the effect of climate change on glaciers: “The glaciers are melting and the snowfall is much less than it was in the 1960s and 70s. That battery that you have in a form of snow and glaciers up there – which melts in the spring months and brings in additional water – will slowly go away…But the good news is that with climate change, many say that the monsoons will be wetter and there will be more discharge,” said Rinzin.
Check out the full interview with Chhewang Rinzin here. For more about hydropower in Bhutan, see GlacierHub’s earlier story.
Klyuchevskoy, a glacier-covered volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia, is erupting. The volcano, 4,750 meters in elevation, has had a history of extensive activity over the last 7,000 years. It has been emitting gas, ash and lava since April 3. Several organizations are closely monitoring its eruption. They note that ash explosions reaching 6 to 8 kilometers in height could occur at any time, affecting flights from Asia to Europe and North America. Local impacts could also be extensive.
KVERT, the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team, posted an update about Klyuchevskoy’s eruption today:
“Explosive-effusive eruption of the volcano continues: there are bursts of volcanic bombs to 200-300 m above the summit crater and up to 50 m above the cinder cone into Apakhonchich chute, and strong gas-steam activity of two volcanic centers with emission of different amounts of ash, the effusing of lava flows along Apakhonchich chute at the south-eastern flank of the volcano. According to the video data, an intensification of the eruption was noted on 06 July: strong explosions sent ash up to 7.5 km a.s.l. According to satellite data by KVERT, a large bright thermal anomaly in the area of the volcano was observed all week, ash plumes drifted for about 350 km to the southwest, south and southeast from the volcano on 02-05 July; and dense ash plumes drifted for about 400 km to the southeast and east from the volcano on 06-07 July.”
Enjoy these striking photos of Klyuchevskoy’s eruption and glaciated peaks below.
Melting of Glaciers Threaten Water Supply of Billions
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. ‘It has to do with water resources, it has to do with the atmospheric processes that drive the monsoon system in that part of the world, which is so important for water, for agriculture,’ said Lonnie Thompson, distinguished university professor and one of the organizers of the consortium.” “
One change, Thompson said: The glaciers are melting faster than they should, which could limit water in that region in the future.”
From The Weather Network: “A pilot and his two passengers are safe after a wrong turn forced the trio to make an emergency landing on a glacier. Vern Hannah, 81, was flying his single-engine Beechcraft plane from Pitt Meadows to Whistler in British Columbia, along with two passengers, when they took a turn down the wrong valley Sunday. ‘It was too late to turn back, so all we could do was try and out climb the valley, so we flew up the valley,” Hannah told the CBC Tuesday. “But we kept losing airspeed and there was a terrific downdraft that kept us from climbing…pretty soon we were right close to the rocks….’ Hannah was skilled enough to keep the plane climbing without stalling, long enough for them to reach the nearby Pemberton Icefield glacier, where Hannah managed to put the plane down safely.”
From Volcano Discovery: “As had been previously suggested, the volcano’s most recent eruptive phase had become both effusive and explosive: in addition to ash-generating strombolian explosions from the summit vent, a new, but short-lived lava flow appeared during 23 or 24 April and descended approx. 800 m on the south-eastern flank of the volcano ….Kliuchevskoi is Kamchatka’s highest and most active volcano. ”
The Kamchatka Peninsula, located in remote Far East Russia, is part of the “Ring of Fire” and is known for its volcanic activity. The 102,400 square mile region has the highest concentration of active volcanoes in the world.
The Klyuchevskoy volcano is one of the seven active glacier-capped volcanoes in the remote region. At a towering 4,835 meters, the Klyuchevskoy, the area’s tallest volcano, is known for its beauty and symmetry.
Considered Kamchatka’s most active volcano, Klyuchevskoy has the likely potential to erupt and is currently listed as code orange. The volcano’s current lava flows still are no match for the 1994 eruption, which sent volcanic ash nine miles high into the atmosphere.
Over the past three decades, satellites have captured many eruptions within the Kamchatka Peninsula, like the 1994 eruption of Klyuchevskoy, seen here. In January of 2013, four volcanoes—Shiveluch, Bezymianny, Tolbachik, and Kizimen — erupted at the same time.
In 2010 a unique photograph of the region was taken from the International Space Station, providing a unique perspective of the glacier-capped volcanoes.
Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula is a remote place by any measure, but it’s worth the trip to see an ice cave nearly a kilometer long that was created by water from a hot spring that flowed under a glacier. Reader Roberto Lopez of Asturias, Spain submitted these pictures from a recent trip. See more of Lopez’s photos at http://www.robertocarloslopez.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.