GlacierHub News Report 06:21:18

GlacierHub News Report 06:21:18

The GlacierHub News Report is a bi-monthly video news report that features some of our website’s top stories. This week, GlacierHub News is featuring an assessment of the environmental impact of tourism in Tibet, deforestation on Mt. Kenya, cryoacoustics, and the adventures of a Filipino world traveler.

This week’s news report features:

 

Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Tourism in Tibet

By: Yang Zhang

Summary: In a paper published earlier this year in the Journal of Mountains, six researchers from the Tibetan Plateau provide science-based suggestions for policymakers to decide where and how ecotourism should be conducted. The construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway in 2006 gave people across the globe access to this cut-off region. By 2017, Tibet was the host of 25.61 million travelers worldwide, a 12-times growth compared to a decade ago. The exponential increase in tourism raises significant concerns about environmental degradation in this fragile ecological hotspot.

Read more about the research here.

Is Deforestation Driving Mt. Kenya’s Glacier Recession?

By: Jade Payne

Summary: Mount Kenya’s glaciers are rapidly receding. A new study published in the American Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering found that forest cover has the highest correlation with Mt. Kenya’s glacier coverage. The study found that the current trend in glacier thinning will continue until the glaciers completely disappear by 2100. In addition, the research found forest cover to be responsible for 75 percent of changes in glacier coverage during the study period, from 1984 to 2017.

Read more about Mt. Kenya’s glacier recession here.

Pioneer Study Sounds Out Iceberg Melting in Norway

By: Sabrina Ho

Summary: Last month, a team of researchers published their work on the intensity, directionality and temporal statistics of underwater noise produced when icebergs melt. The study is a pioneer in the field of cryoacoustics research still in its early stages since existing studies largely focus on larger forms of ice such as glaciers and ice shelves instead of icebergs.

Read more about the study here.

From the Philippines to Glacier Grey

By: Brian Poe Llamanzares

Summary: Rocco Puno, a Filipino world traveler, shared his story about traveling to Glacier Grey, a massive 1,200-year-old glacier that stretches 350 km long in the Chilean side of Patagonia.

Read the full story here.

Video Credits:

Presenters: Brian Poe Llamanzares & Jade Payne

Video Editor: Brian Poe Llamanzares

Writer: Brian Poe Llamanzares

News Intro: YouTube

Music: iMovie

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Observing Glacier Calving through Time-Lapse Imagery and Surface Water Waves

A recent paper published in the Journal of Glaciology explores how a team of researchers studied waves in a Patagonian lake to detect glacier calving events at Glaciar Perito Moreno. Calving events occur when an iceberg detaches from the glacier front. Such events produce waves of different magnitudes as the glacier discharges into the ocean or an adjacent lake.

The paper’s lead author, Masahiro Minowa, told GlacierHub that while calving plays a key role in the recent rapid retreat of glaciers around the world, many processes related to calving are still poorly understood because direct observations are scarce and challenging to obtain.

An example of a glacier calving event producing surface tsunami waves (Source: Masahiro Minowa)
An example of a glacier calving event producing surface tsunami waves (Source: Masahiro Minowa).

Minowa and his team employed a creative methodology to observe calving events at a distance. Employing four time-lapse cameras and a water pressure sensor, they conducted fieldwork in three separate time periods, roughly one week to three weeks long between 2013 and 2016. 420 events were noted within this relatively short period of time. They also estimated the calving volume using the time-lapse images and maximum wave amplitude.

“We did our field works twice in summer and once in winter so that we could observe the seasonality of calving activity. We also wanted to understand mechanisms driving calving if there are any,” Minowa said.

The researchers categorized the time-lapse images by separating calving events into four groups: 1) Topple, an ice tower toppling into the lake; 2) Drop, an ice block dropping into the water; 3) Serac, a small piece of serac slipping down to the lake; and 4) Subaqueous, an underwater iceberg detachment that floats up to the lake surface.

Illustration of the most common calving types at the study site (Source: Minowa et al)
Illustration of the most common calving types at the study site (Source: Minowa et al).

These images were then scrutinized in great detail. For example, Topple and Drop events were distinguished based on whether crevasse widening occurred; while Subaqueous was differentiated from other subaerial events by noting a relatively large single iceberg appearing without any geometrical change on the glacier front and a lack of sediment inclusion on the surface.

The surface wave profiles corresponding to the events were also examined. Their signals were more complex, making it difficult in some cases to distinguish events on the basis of wave profiles alone.

“Initially, we expected a clear difference in wave frequencies between subaqueous and subaerial events. While we could see some difference in frequencies, we are unsure if this is a result of different calving style,” Minowa explained. Wave frequencies also vary based on the relative location of the event to the sensor, even if it is the same calving style. A larger sample of cases is thus required to confirm the wave patterns associated with different calving events.

However, Minowa stressed the importance of choosing a strategic location for the water pressure sensor, which vastly affects the results and findings of a glacier calving study. He warned that a problem may arise from the instrument’s location. “Since waves’ amplitude decay with distance, you will not be able to detect all of the calving events if you place the sensors too far. So, you need to be close enough to the glacier, and you will easily detect many of them,” he said. Yet, this might limit the scope of the area studied, requiring a balanced consideration.

Examples of the time-lapse camera images (Source: Minowa et al)
Examples of the time-lapse camera images (Source: Minowa et al).

From the data, the team could see the seasonality of calving activity. Their results showed that calving events were 2.6 times more frequent during the austral Summer (December-March) as compared to Spring (October). Subaerial calving events occurred 98 percent of the time, although Minowa conceded that the dataset was a bit short to confirm any trigger mechanisms.

Following the research, the team is now ready to install new water sensors for a year-round measurement around the glacier in the hope of further understanding calving processes through the use of surface-waves in glacier fronts. This is a step toward reducing glacier melting in Patagonia and the rest of the world.

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Video of the Week: A Glacier That Keeps Collapsing

We’ve all heard of glacial retreat. But have you heard of this glacier in Argentina that keeps collapsing?

Take a look at this BBC video of the Perito Moreno glacier in the country’s Patagonia region, where a part of the glacier recently collapsed. This event is, thankfully, not due to climate change. Rather, its part of an unusual cycle of an advancing glacier, slowly damming a section of the Argentino Lake, creating an ice bridge, which then ruptures and collapses when the water pressure becomes too great. This collapsing spectacle is part of a natural cycle that can occur once a year or sometimes less frequently, around once a decade.

Even though this collapse may not be due to climate change, scientists do say that overall the amount of glacial ice in the Patagonia region is decreasing.

Read more glacier news at GlacierHub:

Avalanche Strikes Near Russian Glacier

Greatest Snowfall on Kilimanjaro Glacier in Years

The Glacier Law Conundrum: Protecting Glaciers or Limiting Hazard Response and Adaptation?

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Ice without Scale: Photographs by Angeles Peña

Angeles Peña grew up in the mountains of Argentine Patagonia, immersed in a landscape that she considers wild, hostile, and infinite– and changing. “The winters flee with speed and are gradually disappearing. The glaciers recede. Summers are hotter. The seasons seem to be less and less defined,” she reflected.

Peña has spent the last three years traveling through what she calls the “beautiful, stunning, and wildly desolate territory” of Andean Patagonia, photographing glaciers. In her pictures, she seeks to present her subjects without a sense of scale, and capture the essential qualities of ice, cold, and water. Browse through the below slideshow of work from her series, “Aguas de montaña.”

[slideshow_deploy id=’16423′]

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Photo Friday: The Melting Glaciers of Patagonia

The Patagonia region receives up to four meters (160 inches) of rain and snow per year, making it one of the wettest and windiest regions on Earth. Unfortunately, the Patagonian glaciers have been shrinking at an accelerated rate over the last century, leaving scientists to battle intense weather conditions to understand why. Studies show, for example, that a majority of the glaciers of Patagonia and Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego have lost nearly 40 percent of their size since 1945. About 18,000 years ago, the North and South Patagonian ice fields were much more expansive, but today span only 13,000 square kilometers. Using NASA’s cloud-free images, thick plumes in the fjords are visible, which show how much sediment the glaciers erode as they slide down toward the ocean, threatening sea level rise.

Learn more about the melting glaciers of Patagonia here.

Images from the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 on April 29, May 1, and May 24, 2016 (Source: NASA/Earth Observatory).

 

An image of the Patagonian ice field’s largest and most notable glacier, Jorge Montt, on April 29, 2016 (Source: NASA/Earth Observatory).

 

Ice would have covered the brown rock of Upsala Glacier, the ice field’s largest and longest glacier (Source: NASA/Earth Observatory).

 

The Occidental Glacier drains ice from a basin through a deep trough (Source: NASA/Earth Observatory).

 

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