From Geomorphology: “Ahora Gorge is a 400 m deep canyon located along the North Eastern flank of Mt. Ararat (Turkey), a compound volcanic complex covered by an ice cap. In the past, several diarists and scientific authors reported a calamitous event on July 2, 1840, when a landslide triggered by a volcanic eruption and/or an earthquake obliterated several villages located at the foot of the volcano. The reasons and effects of this Ahora Gorge Catastrophe (AGC) event have been obscure and ambiguous. To reappraise the 1840 catastrophe and the geomorphic evolution of the Ahora Gorge, we used high-resolution satellite images, remote sensing thermal data supplemented by observations collected during two field surveys.”
Albedo Effect in the Swiss Alps
From The Cryosphere: “Albedo feedback is an important driver of glacier melt over bare-ice surfaces. Light-absorbing impurities strongly enhance glacier melt rates but their abundance, composition and variations in space and time are subject to considerable uncertainties and ongoing scientific debates. In this study, we assess the temporal evolution of shortwave broadband albedo derived from 15 end-of-summer Landsat scenes for the bare-ice areas of 39 large glaciers in the western and southern Swiss Alps. […] Although a darkening of glacier ice was found to be present over only a limited region, we emphasize that due to the recent and projected growth of bare-ice areas and prolongation of the ablation season in the region, the albedo feedback will considerably enhance the rate of glacier mass loss in the Swiss Alps in the near future.”
Glacier Meltwater Impacts in Greenland
From Marine Ecology Progress Series: “Arctic benthic ecosystems are expected to experience strong modifications in the dynamics of primary producers and/or benthic-pelagic coupling under climate change. However, lack of knowledge about the influence of physical constraints (e.g. ice-melting associated gradients) on organic matter sources, quality, and transfers in systems such as fjords can impede predictions of the evolution of benthic-pelagic coupling in response to global warming. Here, sources and quality of particulate organic matter (POM) and sedimentary organic matter (SOM) were characterized along an inner-outer gradient in a High Arctic fjord (Young Sound, NE Greenland) exposed to extreme seasonal and physical constraints (ice-melting associated gradients). The influence of the seasonal variability of food sources on 2 dominant filter-feeding bivalves (Astarte moerchi and Mya truncata) was also investigated. Results revealed the critical impact of long sea ice/snow cover conditions prevailing in Young Sound corresponding to a period of extremely poor and degraded POM and SOM.”
Almost half of Turkey is made up of mountainous terrain. The country was once home to several large glaciers, however over time, their areas of coverage has decreased tremendously.
The Taurus Mountain range, Toros Dağlari in Turkish, is located on the southern edge of Turkey. This great chain of mountains runs parallel to the Mediterranean coast, towards the borders of Syria, Iran, and Iraq. About two thirds of the country’s glaciers currently lie within this range, with some of the highest peaks reaching heights of between 10,000 and 12,000 feet above sea level (3,000 to 3,700 m).
Toros means ‘bull’ in Latin, and the origin of the mountain’s name is useful in perceiving past climate. According to World Atlas, the bull symbolizes Near Eastern storm gods in ancient Mesopotamia. The mountains are home to several storm-god temples, and they historically received heavy rainfall.
Turkey receives most of its precipitation in winter, and because of irregular topography, regions vary greatly in weather and climate. In recent decades however, Turkey has received less and less annual winter rainfall in the western region. This is where many of the country’s largest glaciers reside. Summer temperature also continue to rise with global warming. These might have been major contributing factors to glacier shrinkage. Turkey has also experienced significant drought periods in the last few years, with rainfall far below annual average levels.
Since the 1970s, over half of Turkey’s ice cover has vanished. According to a study published in Remote Sensing of Environment, in more than 40 years, the total glacial area fell from 25km2 in the 1970s, to 10.85km2in 2012-2013. Scientists attribute these changes to higher minimum summer temperatures. Five glaciers have disappeared, and the current glaciers have greatly declined.
Before and after: Glacier dynamics and the collapse of ice shelves in Antartica
“Following the disintegration of the Larsen B Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, in 2002, regular surveillance of its ∼20 tributary glaciers has revealed a response which is varied and complex in both space and time. The major outlets have accelerated and thinned, smaller glaciers have shown little or no change, and glaciers flowing into the remnant Scar Inlet Ice Shelf have responded with delay… Through this study, we seek to improve confidence in our numerical models and their ability to capture the complex mechanical coupling between floating ice shelves and grounded ice.”
“Researchers and citizens have known for some time that Turkey’s glaciers are shrinking. Now scientists have calculated the losses and found that more than half of the ice cover in this mountainous country has vanished since the 1970s. A team of researchers from Ege University (Turkey) and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center analyzed four decades of Landsat satellite data to document this steady decline. The team, led by Dogukan Dogu Yavasli (Ege), published their results in June 2015 in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment.”
“The De Filippi expedition reached Bombay in August 1913, and, during the next 12 months, carried out extensive explorations of Western Himalaya, Karakorum, and Chinese Turkestan. There are several reasons for remembering the De Filippi expedition to Central Asia: (1) a real interest in a past and present neuralgic area comprising several states, in particular Pakistan, China, and India, (2) the renewed attention in the subject of exploration and Italy’s special contribution in this field, (3) the need—now finally acknowledged—to protect and make appropriate use of our scientific heritage, and (4) an interest in new forms of tourism… One hundred years after the expedition, we focus the attention on the scientific results obtained by persons that we do not hesitate to define as extraordinary, but now partly forgotten.”
At the convergence of modern-day Turkey, Armenia, and Iran sits Mount Ararat, which is actually two peaks. The higher of the pair, “Great Ararat,” sits more than five thousand meters above sea level, and is home to a glacier on its crown. Due to its visible presence in one of the longest-inhabited regions of the world, Mt. Ararat is the topic of countless myths, mentioned in a wealth of real history, and is an emblem of pride and identity for millions of different people. In Judeo-Christian tradition, the mountain is believed to be the site where Noah’s ark landed after the waters of the Flood receded, and the nearby Armenian highlands are often suggested as the location of the Garden of Eden.
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