Photo Friday: Visible Glacier Shrinking in Puncak Jaya

Even though mountain peaks near the equator have supported glaciers for thousands of years, they have retreated significantly in the last century because of climate change. Many tropical glaciers have lost more than half of their volume with the rapid development of global industry. Puncak Jaya, the earth’s highest island peak in Indonesia, holds the last glaciers in the tropical Pacific. Back in 1989, five ice masses sat on the slopes of Puncak Jaya. But by 2009, two of the glaciers, Meren and Southwall, were gone. The other three, Carstenz, East Northwall Firn, and West North Wall Firn, have retreated dramatically since the 1970’s, according to satellite imagery analyzed by Joni L. Kincaid and Andrew G. Klein, from the department of Geography in Texas A&M University. The Meren Glacier melted away sometime between 1994 and 2000. Pictures below, provided by NASA and U.S. Government show, the dynamic shrinking glacier in Puncak Jaya.

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Photo Friday highlights photo essays and collections from areas with glaciers. If you have photos you’d like to share, let us know in the comments, by Twitter @glacierhub or email us at glacierhub@gmail.com

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Roundup: Glacier Names, Pakistani Disasters and More

Iceland names 130 new glaciers

“The new names mainly refer to places in the vicinity. For example, Kerlingarbaksjökull lies to the west of the mountain Kerling in Eyjafjörður, Sýlingarjökull in Svarfaðardalur is named after the mountain Auðnasýling and Dyrajökull lies in the Dyrfjöll mountains in Borgarfjörður eystri, as stated on ruv.is. Oddur is working with local and U.S. colleagues on making a map for an international glacier atlas.”

Read the full story in the Iceland Review.

 

Pakistan is suffering from disasters caused by climate change

“If we look at the current disaster history of Pakistan, the country has encountered multiple disasters which are only caused by the climate change phenomena, which includes coastal flooding, drought, and flash floods. Among these the melting of glacier causing glacial outbursts observed an unprecedented events in northern part of the country.”

Read more about disaster risk reduction in The Dardistant Times.

 

Controversy on tropical glaciers

“Yet the idea that the ice cap has retreated over time because of a change in temperature, rather than other possible factors like reduced snowfall, has always been more of a surmise than a proven case. In fact, how to interpret the disappearance of glaciers throughout the tropics has been a scientific controversy. ”

Read more about scientific battles on tropical glaciers in The New York Times.

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If a glacier melts on a mountain, does anyone hear it?

In June 2014 the two of us—an anthropologist and an experimental musician, both from Peru– visited Quelccaya, a large glacier high in the Andes. We wanted to record the sounds of its ice as it melted. This trip formed part of our ongoing collaborative project. We are interested establishing new approaches to questions of climate change. The field recordings that we have included in this post present a sonic narration of our encounter with this glacier. They were made with a variety of low- and hi-fi digital and analog recording devices.

Our recordings begin by presenting the soundscape of the back of an open-top cargo truck moving through the Andean landscape. These sounds were recorded during our trip, many hours long, on dusty dirt roads to the community of Phinaya about 80 miles from the city of Cusco.

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Once in Phinaya, we continued to the southwest section of the glacier, where a large, unnamed lake has recently formed. In 2004, this lake burst its banks, creating a flood that affected several families of indigenous herders, along with their animals. We recorded the sounds of a small and the largest tributary streams that flows into this lake. They both offer overlapping sonic forms as they wind their way through gaps between rocks and frozen soil, reverberating with the glacier and rock walls.

We continued on to a small upper stream, where drops of water fell from an icicle and splashed onto a rock. And then we paused to make a sonic image recording right next to one of the biggest faces of the glacier, seeking to capture the way that it absorbs the sounds of a small stream running next to it.


Up on the glacier, we explored a number of ice caves. We experimented with an omnidirectional microphone inside an ice cave five meters wide. We were struck with the dull sound of the water dripping from the top of the cave onto the floor and running both inside and outside the ice cave. We placed a low-fi Dictaphone inside a small ice cave, only 50 cm wide, which created a distortion effect. We used an omnidirectional microphone to a stream running inside the glacier.

As we continued, we found more sounds to record and more ways to experiment with our equipment. We placed an analogue hydrophone under the surface of a small stream, and captured the sounds of tiny rocks that this moving water displaced. And we were able as well to capture the interaction between massive ice blocks with minute ice crystals that fell from the surface of the glacier.

We plan to return to this astonishing soundscape that emerges as climate change drives glacier retreat. Next time, however, we want to bring more equipment and involve people from Phinaya interested in making their own recordings of the glacier. We also look forward to developing ties with other people who are exploring such soundscapes around the world, in the hope that the voice of the glaciers will stimulate an alternative sensorial approach to climate change; namely, one which is not dominated by visuality.

This guest post was written by Gustavo Valdivia and Tomás Tello. If you’d like to write a guest post for GlacierHub, contact us at glacierhub@gmail.com or @glacierhub on Twitter. 

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