Roundup: Bernie Wins First Glacier State Caucus, A Cryosphere Congressional Hearing, and Using Drones to Monitor Ice Flow

The First Glacier State to Vote in 2020 Primary Goes For Bernie

On Saturday Bernie Sanders won the Nevada caucuses in a landslide. The state was the first with glaciers to vote in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. It might come as a surprise to learn that the desert state has any glaciers at all and would perhaps be even more unexpected if the glacier had much of any influence in how residents voted. But this is GlacierHub––and the 2020 American election is perhaps the single most consequential moment for the future of glaciers worldwide––so we looked at it.

Nevada’s lone glacier is nooked in a crevice at the base of 13,000-foot Wheeler Peak, in the Snake Range in the eastern part of the state. The forlorn-looking rock glacier sits within Precinct 9 of White Pine County, which caucused together with the other precincts at White Pine High School in the county seat of Ely. With with nine of 10 precincts reporting at time of publication, Sanders leads, though his advantage is not as significant as his margin of victory statewide.

In Precinct 9, Sanders had a plurality but not a majority on the caucus’ first alignment. He tied with Senator Amy Klobuchar for delegates on the second alignment. Statewide results show that the urban areas went more heavily for Sanders than the rural areas, but they also have by far the largest populations. Notably, White Pine County, which has a population density of one person per square mile and lies within the Mormon Corridor, has between 50-60 percent registered voters as Republican. Public land issues are a top voter concern there.

GlacierHub has, on occasion, applied a glacier-lense to American politics. Last year we published What Glacier State Congressmembers Think of a Green New Deal and on November 9, 2016; Editorial: Viewing the Election from the Summits of Glaciers. We also covered Senator Sanders’ 2016 run for the Democratic Primary; Glacier Counties in Washington Give Strong Support to Sanders and Of Sanders and Glaciers, Wyoming Edition.

Mount Wheeler and Nevada’s only glacier (Source: WikiCommons)

Congressional Hearing Focuses on Earth’s Changing Cryosphere

On January 15, a panel of earth science and environmental communicators addressed the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology in Washington. Among the experts advising how the United States should be addressing the climate crisis were Heidi Steltzer, a professor at Fort Lewis College in Colorado and a lead author of the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and Pamela McElwee, a professor at Rutgers University and a lead author of the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land.

Read the story by Zoë Klobus on GlacierHub here.

Heidi Steltzer (center) and Pamela McElwee (first from left) testifying in front of the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology (Source: Heidi Steltzer)

The Viability of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Monitor Ice Flow

A new study demonstrates that drones are promising instruments for monitoring ice flow, especially that of hard to reach or inaccessible glaciers, with a resolution unachievable by remote sensing. From the abstract:

“Measuring the ice flow motion accurately is essential to better understand the time evolution of glaciers and ice sheets and therefore to better anticipate the future consequence of climate change in terms of sea level rise. Although there are a variety of remote sensing methods to fill this task, in situ measurements are always needed for validation or to capture high-temporal-resolution movements. Yet glaciers are in general hostile environments where the installation of instruments might be tedious and risky when not impossible. Here we report the first-ever in situ measurements of ice flow motion using a remotely controlled unmanned aerial vehicle.”

Read the full study here.

The Enduro quadcopter UAV that landed on Eqip Sermia Glacier (Source: Jouvet et al).

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Congressional Hearing Focuses on Earth’s Changing Cryosphere