Roundup: GRACE for Glacier Retreat, Heat Waves on New Zealand Glaciers, and Peatland Water Dynamics in South America

An Overview of GRACE for Tracking Glacier Retreat

A study published in Nature Climate Change gives a thoughtful overview on the use of GRACE satellites in tracking small changes on the earth’s gravitational field, which is one of the major contributions in observing glacier retreat.

“Interactions between the different climate system components involve mass variations in continental surface and sub-surface water storage (rivers, lakes, ground water, snow cover, polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers), as well as the mass redistribution within and between ocean and atmosphere. These mass movements are inherent to the evolution of droughts, floods, large-scale ocean currents, ice-sheet and glacier changes, and sea-level rise. Launched in 2002, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission1 added a unique component to the existing suite of Earth observations: time-resolved gravity measurements of global-mass redistribution, a fundamental building block crucial to understanding the complex interactions and transitions involved in today’s changing climate.”

Artist concept of GRACE (Source: NASA)

Heat Waves on New Zealand’s Small and Medium Glaciers

An article by the International Journal of Climatology looks at a new type of extreme event, marine heat waves (MHW), and the impacts on glacier size in New Zealand.

“Monitoring of ice volume changes across mountain ranges provides a very sensitive indicator for the early detection of climate-related changes associated with global warming… However, glacier monitoring data are strongly biased towards the Northern Hemisphere, with sparser information from the Southern Hemisphere. Thus observations from the mid-latitude mountains of New Zealand, which have over 3,000 glaciers, are of considerable value for the global climate monitoring network.”

Franz Joseph Glacier in New Zealand (Source: Vince O’Sullivan/Flickr)

Peatlands Water Table Dynamics in the Andes, Bolivia and Peru

A study published by Hydrological Processes examines high-elevation peatlands in Peru and Bolivia. These peatlands are often close to glaciers, and present many ecosystems services while also supporting indigenous pastoralist livelihoods.

“Little is known about the hydrological processes supporting peatlands in other regions of the Andes, particularly the more arid Puna region of the Andes that extends from central Peru to central Chile. The vulnerability of these peatlands and associated socioecological systems to glacier loss under climate change is largely contingent upon how exclusively wetlands are supported by glacier melt water rather than hillslope groundwater recharged by precipitation. Future climate change effects on precipitation in the Andes are complex to predict could influence not only stream flow but also recharge of groundwater flow systems that could support wetlands.”

Andes Mountains in Peru (Source: maios/Flickr)

Read More on GlacierHub:

Illustrating the Adventures of German Naturalist Alexander von Humboldt

The Dead of Mount Everest Are Seeing the Light of Day

Glaciers Get New Protections with Passage of Natural Resources Act