At Glacier’s End: Protecting Glacial Rivers in Iceland
“Page after page of curving colorful rivers delight the eye in At Glacier’s End, a recently published book about Iceland’s glacial river systems. The images that lie behind its cover were created by Chris Burkard, a photographer and explorer, and the more than 8,000 words that tell their story were penned by Matt McDonald, a storyteller and traveller.”
“Our main goal with the book was to advocate for Iceland’s national parks and to try to create a voice for them from a visual perspective,” Burkard said in an interview with GlacierHub. “In Iceland, it’s really surprising, many politicians who are the decision-makers haven’t had a chance to actually see [these places] because they are far away and really hard to access.”
Seabirds Find New Ways to Forage in a Changing Arctic
“On Arctic landmasses, valley glaciers––formally known as tidewater glaciers––run all the way to the ocean, where cloudy plumes from their discharge create the perfect foraging habitat for seabirds. Researchers found some birds are reliant upon the turbid, subglacial freshwater discharge, which breaks apart icebergs and forms a column of freshwater foraging ground at the glacier’s edge, while others prefer to forage near the broken sea ice where water is less turbid…In 2019, Bungo Nishizawa and associates published a study in the ICES Journal of Marine Science that investigated the effects of subglacial meltwater on two assemblages of seabirds in northwestern Greenland.”
Read the full story by GlacierHub writer Audrey Ramming here.
A First-ever Look at Ice Stream Formation
In this week’s Video of the Week, the world gets its first-ever look at ice stream formation. The video, which was published on the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) YouTube channel on December 17, tracks the rapid movement of the Vavilov Ice Cap, in the high Russian Arctic, from summer 2015 to summer 2018. In the video the glacier’s speed is color-coded by meters per day of movement in what scientists believe is the first documented transition of a glacial surge to a longer-lasting flow known as an ice stream.
In this week’s Video of the Week, the world gets its first-ever look at ice stream formation. The video, which was published on the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) YouTube channel on December 17, tracks the rapid movement of the Vavilov Ice Cap, in the high Russian Arctic, from summer 2015 to summer 2018.
In the video the glacier’s speed is color-coded by meters per day of movement in what scientists believe is the first documented transition of a glacial surge to a longer-lasting flow known as an ice stream.
“Ice streams and glacial surges were believed to be separate phenomena driven by different mechanisms,” the AGU wrote in the caption. “But if the authors of the new study are correct, glacial surges could instead be an early stage of an ice stream.”
NASA documented the surge in an April 2019 story “A Surprising Surge at Vavilov Ice Cap.” Glaciologists took notice of the glacier’s abberant behavior in 2013, when it suddenly sprang forward, an unusual development for a cold-based glacier, which tend to move slowly. The finding startled glaciologists because if the Vavilov Ice Cap’s outlet glacier can suddenly transition from stable ice––to ice stream––then so can other ice caps, which would upend sea level rise predictions globally.
“The fact that an apparently stable, cold-based glacier suddenly went from moving 20 meters per year to 20 meters per day was extremely unusual, perhaps unprecedented,” University of Colorado Boulder glaciologist Michael Willistold NASA in April 2019. “The numbers here are simply nuts. Before this happened, as far as I knew, cold-based glaciers simply didn’t do that…couldn’t do that.”
Whyjay Zheng is a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University and the lead author of the new study. “If you look at the satellite images, it seems like the entire west wing of the ice cap is just dumping into the sea,” Zheng said. “No one has ever seen this before.”
From Phys.org: “In the last few years, the Vavilov Ice Cap in the Russian High Arctic has dramatically accelerated, sliding as much as 82 feet a day in 2015, according to a new multi-national, multi-institute study led by CIRES fellow Mike Willis, an assistant professor of Geology at CU Boulder.”
Glacier Retreat Drives Reduction in Italian Hydropower
From Applied Energy: “We assess the impacts of nine climate-change scenarios on the hydrological regime and on hydropower production of forty-two glacierized basins across the Italian Alps, assumed exemplary of similar systems in other glacierized contexts.”
Read more about hydropower in the Italian Alps here.
Debris-Covered Glaciers in Nepal
From Frontiers in Earth Science: “We present measurements collected between 26 September and 12 October 2016 from an eddy correlation system installed on the debris-covered Lirung Glacier in Nepal during the transition between monsoon and post-monsoon. Our observations suggest that surface energy losses through turbulent fluxes reduce the positive net radiative fluxes during daylight hours between 10 and 100%, and even lead to a net negative surface energy balance after noon.”