Roundup: Norwegian Glacier Change, Climbing Federation Refocuses Priorities, and Antarctic Meltwater Influence on Phytoplankton

Glacier Change in Norway Since The 1960s

An overview of Norwegian glaciers since the 1960s shows there was some advance through the end of the last century. That period of advance has ended and the region’s glaciers are now in uniform retreat, though with some variation.

From the abstract: “In this paper, we give an overview of changes in area, length, surface elevation and mass balance of glaciers in mainland Norway since the 1960s. Frontal advances have been recorded in all regions except the northernmost glaciers in Troms and Finnmark (Storsteinsfjellbreen, Lyngen and Langfjordjøkelen). More than half of the observed glaciers, 27 of 49, had marked advances in the 1990s. The glaciological mass-balance values for the period 1962–2018, where 43 glaciers have been measured, show great inter-annual variability.”

Read the full study in the journal Cambridge Core here.

Digitised glacier outlines and basins for a subsection of the study glaciers in Jotunheimen (Source: Cambridge Core/Andreassen et al)

UIAA Restated Priorities For 2020 and Beyond

The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA), the world’s major mountaineering federation, is revising its core statements of purpose, and is including climate change. Glaciers will be a component. There is a series of steps, with meetings of the Executive Board in earlier this spring and a major assembly in May. The Surfrider Foundation took on ocean plastics in a big way, can climbing groups do the same?

From a February 20, UIAA press release: “Recent dialogue and meetings dating back to the UIAA General Assembly in Cyprus and involving the GA, the UIAA Management Committee and the UIAA Executive Board, have focused on collectively realigning the UIAA’s role, objectives and vision.

Taking elements from the expertise which went into the publication of the 2019 UIAA Strategic Plan (produced by a dedicated working group), the resulting proposal is to focus on objectives which are more direct and specific, all in the spirit of being available to render service to the member federations.”

As a result, the proposal is for the UIAA’s key strategic priorities going forward to be defined as:

(1) Providing global guidance on nature and climate risk
(2) Setting and maintaining the highest standards
(3) Acting as a helpline to national federations and their members

Read the full UIAA press release here.

Source: UIAA

Environmental Drivers of Phytoplankton Taxonomic Composition in an Antarctic Fjord

Phytoplankton, the microscopic floating plants in the ocean, are the key to marine food webs. This study from Antarctica shows that they are influenced by glacier retreat, because meltwater influences temperature, salinity, nutrients, turbidity.

From the abstract: “The impact of ice-ocean interaction on the Southern Ocean is expected to intensify in the future. However, its influence on phytoplankton community composition remains an open question. The Antarctic Peninsula fjords offer an ideal system to understand the effect of ice-ocean forcing on phytoplankton community, providing an extreme in the spatial gradient from the glacio-marine boundary to the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) continental shelf. During two cruises conducted in December 2015 and April 2016 in Andvord Bay, we found that glacial meltwater input altered surface salinity, promoting shallow mixed layers, and enriched surface waters in dissolved iron and nitrate. The three major groups of phytoplankton fueled by glacial input were: cryptophytes, diatoms, and a group of unidentified small flagellates.”

Read the study in the journal Science Direct here.

Andvord Bay, Antarctica (Source: WikiCommons/David Stanley).

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