Roundup: Lamborghinis, Spy Satellites, and Changing Calendars

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

Swedish Skier Drives a Lamborghini Up a Norwegian Glacier

From Autoblog: “The latest stunt by Jon Olsson has no particular purpose, but we love it just the same. Olsson, a former ski racer, always has a neat car with an equipment carrier stuck on top, and in this video he puts his customized rear-drive Lamborghini Murcielago LP 640 to work at Fonna Glacier Ski Resort in Norway. Makes sense to us. As he says in the short video, the aim is to have fun. He drives the Lambo up the Norwegian glacier aided by monster rear tires with some frightening studs, and then he makes things a little more interesting by creating a giant giant slalom course for the car.” 

Learn more about Olsson’s glacier drive here.


Villages Must Recalibrate Time to Survive in the Pamir Mountains

Snow-covered Peaks of the Pamir Mountains (source: Kassam/AGU)
Snow-covered Peaks of the Pamir Mountains (source: Kassam/AGU)

From EOS: “The calendar has stopped working for the people of the Pamir—the stunning, stark mountain range straddling the modern-day borders of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. A shifting climate is disrupting not only their subsistence farming and herding but also their unique way of tracking time. . Local timekeepers name each new seasonal development after a part of the body, beginning with the toenail, then moving upward to the shin, the thigh, the intestines, the heart, and so on, until reaching the head. Arrival at the head coincides with the end of spring and a pause in counting. When the first cue of summer is observed, the counting sequence restarts, but this time from the head downward. Timekeepers rely on natural events—the nascence of a flower, arrival of a migratory bird, movement of fish, breakup of lake ice—as the indicators of seasonal change, not simply the number of days since significant positions of the Sun, Moon, and stars. For centuries, this indigenous timekeeping strategy has offered local villagers an intuitive context for scheduling day-to-day life, from when to plow and seed to the timing of festivals and other events at the heart of Pamiri society. In recent years, however, climate change coupled with political instability has begun to disrupt the Pamir landscape, throwing these traditional ecological calendars out of sequence—and in need of recalibration.”

Find out about traditional calendars in the Pamirs and their evolution here.


Quantifying Ice Loss in the Eastern Himalayas Since 1974 Using Declassified Spy Satellite Imagery


Maps showing elevation change between 1974 and 2006 on glaciers in Bhutan. White outlines denote glaciers used in the study. (source: The Cryosphere)
Maps showing elevation change between 1974 and 2006 on glaciers in Bhutan. White outlines denote glaciers used in the study. (source: The Cryosphere)

From The Cryosphere:

“Himalayan glaciers are important natural resources and climate indicators for densely populated regions in Asia. Remote sensing methods are vital for evaluating glacier response to changing climate over the vast and rugged Himalayan region; yet many platforms capable of glacier mass balance quantification are somewhat temporally limited considering typical glacier response times. We here rely on declassified spy satellite imagery and ASTER data to quantify surface lowering, ice volume change, and geodetic mass balance during 1974-2006 for glaciers in the eastern Himalayas, centered on the Bhutan-China border. The wide range of glacier types allows for the first mass balance comparison between clean, 15 debris, and lake-terminating (calving) glaciers in the region. Measured glaciers show significant ice loss, with an estimated mean annual geodetic mass balance of -0.12 ± 0.06 m.w.e. yr-1 (meters of water equivalent per year) for 10 clean-ice glaciers, -0.15 ± 0.11 m.w.e. yr-1 for 5 debris-covered glaciers, -0.25 ± 0.10 m.w.e. yr-1 for 6 calving glaciers, and -0.16 ± 0.05 m.w.e. yr-1 for all glaciers combined.

To learn more about the new insights gleaned from declassified images from spy satellites, click here.