Roundup: New Carbon Sink Discovery, Himalaya GLOFs, and Invasive Plants in Antarctica

Proglacial Freshwaters Found to be Carbon Sinks

Researchers in Canada have discovered that proglacial freshwaters are important carbon sinks. Glacier retreat has often been considered a negative consequence of climate change, but this finding suggests there may be benefits as well.

Read the story by Zoë Klobus on GlacierHub here.

Researcher Kyra St Pierre conducts field work on the Blister River (Source: Kyra St Pierre)

Himalaya GLOF Threat Featured in National Geographic Features

From National Geographic: “Scientists say the accelerated melting of Asia’s estimated 56,000 glaciers is creating hundreds of new lakes across the Himalaya and other high mountain ranges. If the natural dam holding a glacial lake in place fails, the resulting flood could wipe out communities situated in the valleys below. Engineers in Nepal are looking at ways to lower the most dangerous lakes to reduce the threat.

“It’s all happening much faster than we expected it to even five or 10 years ago,” says Alton Byers, a National Geographic explorer and mountain geographer at the University of Colorado Boulder.”

Read the story here.

Upper Barun Valley, Nepal which features results of the Langmale GLOF on the lower left side of the image (Source: Roger Nix/Flickr)

An Invasive Plant Species Is Taking Over Antarctica’s Glacier Forelands

Invasive species are an enormous threat in Antarctica where one non-native vascular plant species is widespread and studies have shown negative impacts on native flora. The continent has only two species of “higher” plants, but a newcomer has people worried. New research shows that it is often founds in “glacier forelands”––areas exposed by recent glacier retreat.

From the abstract: “Using field “common garden” experiments, we evaluate the competitive impact of the increasingly wide- spread invasive grass Poa annua on the only two native vascular species of Antarctica, the forb Colobanthus quitensis and the grass Deschampsia antarctica. We focus on interactions between these three plant species under current and a future, wetter, climate scenario, in terms of density of individuals.”

Read the study here.

Pa, the invasive species, and the two native species (Source: Molina-Montenegro, etc al).

Read More on GlacierHub:

Antarctic Fungi Provides a Window into the Past and Future

Off with the Wind: The Reproduction Story of Antarctic Lichens

GLOF Risk Perception in Nepal Himalaya

Roundup: Effects of High Latitude Dust, The First Proglacial Sediment Inventory, Glaciers and New Zealand’s Paleoclimate

The Effects of High Latitude Dust on Arctic Atmosphere

Science Reports published a study on November 6, which profiles the vertical distribution of dusts in the Arctic atmosphere. Read the full study here. From the abstract:

“High Latitude Dust (HLD) contributes 5% to the global dust budget, but HLD measurements are sparse. Dust observations from Iceland provide dust aerosol distributions during the Arctic winter for the first time, profiling dust storms as well as clean air conditions. Five winter dust storms were captured during harsh conditions…Dust sources in the Arctic are active during the winter and produce large amounts of particulate matter dispersed over long distances and high altitudes. HLD contributes to Arctic air pollution and has the potential to influence ice nucleation in mixed-phase clouds and Arctic amplification.”

For more on high latitude dust impacts on GlacierHub, read How Dust From Receding Glaciers Is Affecting the Climate.

Launch of LOAC during strong winds in Hvalfjordur bay, West Iceland, on 12th January 2016 (Source RAX/Ragnar Axelsson).

The First Proglacial River Sediment Inventory

Sediments are being exposed as glaciers retreat, making proglacial rivers one of the most sediment-rich areas in the world. From the abstract of a study published in the 2019 book Geomorphology of Proglacial Systems:

“Deglaciation since the Little Ice Age has exposed only a small areal proportion of alpine catchments, but these proglacial systems are disproportionately important as sediment sources. Indeed sediment yields from proglacial rivers are amongst the highest measured anywhere in the World. Motivated by a desire to understand where exactly within catchments this sediment is coming from and how it might evolve, this chapter presents the first digital inventories of proglacial systems and the first comparative inter- and intra-catchment comparison of their geometry, topography and geomorphology.”

The e-book by Springer is available here.

Tasman River between Tasman Lake (proglacial) and Lake Pukaki in the distance (Source: Fabian Rindler/WikiCommons).

Glacier Fluctuations Key to New Zealand Paleoclimate Record

A new study, published in Science Direct on November 1, traces the fluctuations in some New Zealand glaciers over the last 10,000-plus years, showing the significance for contemporary issues of climate change. From the abstract:

“Geological records of past glacier extent can yield important constraints on the timing and magnitude of pre-historic climate change. Here we present a cosmogenic Helium-3 moraine chronology from Mt. Ruapehu in central North Island, New Zealand that records fluctuations of New Zealand’s northernmost glaciers over the last 14,000 years.”

Read the full study here.

The upper southern flank of Mt. Ruapehu with cosmogenic Helium-3 exposure ages on moraines in the foreland of Mangaehuehu Glacier (Source: Eaves et al/Science Direct).

Read More on GlacierHub:

Photo Friday: GIF Shows Dramatic Reduction of Gergeti Glacier, Georgia

Mountain Summit Issues Call for Action on Climate Change

Video of the Week: Hellish Bike Race Down French Alpine Glacier