A team of scientists on board a former Danish fisheries research ship and icebreaker is working to measure changes to Helheim glacier and the fjords around it. Helheim, named for the world of the dead in Norse mythology, is one of Greenland’s largest outlet glaciers. This means that it is one of the primary locations for meltwater leaving the Greenland ice sheet. It is responsible for 4% of Greenland’s annual mass loss.
Understanding the melting at Helheim is crucial because Greenland has the potential to contribute 27cm of sea level rise within the lifetimes of today’s children.
The project studies Helheim using several technologies in pursuit of the team’s goal to create complex models of glacial fracturing. Some of the methods being used to collect data include drilling into the glacier to determine how much snow is deposited on the glacier during storms, using seismometers to detect the spread of concealed fractures, and checking the status of the glacier’s terminus four times daily with an automatic laser system to monitor calving, among other sources of information.
To learn more about the study check out this article from Science Magazine which our video of the week draws from.
This week’s Video of the Week features newly developed drone technology that allows scientists to capture high-resolution video footage and photographs at peak elevations in the Peruvian Andes. The lightweight drone can reach up to 6000 meters above sea level, which was once unreachable due to the air’s thinness. The creator of this innovative drone is scientist Oliver Wigmore from the University of Colorado. Wigmore uses his drone footage to create detailed models of glacial surfaces and document how glaciers are changing over time.
After many years in the making, a documentary was released in October 2017 about Plateau Perspectives, a Canadian non-profit organization founded by Marc Foggin that is dedicated to protecting the ecological integrity of the Tibetan Plateau and improving the well-being of local mountain communities. This film sought to capture the lives of Plateau Perspectives’ volunteers and their relationships with local residents. According to a note from the producers, translated from Chinese, “In the creation of this video, the soul and nature of their work are captured, combined with visuals of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.”
For this week’s Video of the Week, learn about the important work that Plateau Perspectives does for the glacierized mountain landscapes of the Himalayas and Central Asia through the film’s trailer. After watching this two-minute teaser, be sure to check out the entire 24-minute production here.
On the southern slope of Mount Baker in the North Cascades of Washington state lies Sherman Crater, an active vent where most of the mountain’s geothermal activity occurs. Sulfur-rich vapor often emerges from many locations within the crater, but when the weather is just right, onlookers are in for a treat! These cold, windless days allow the steam to condense and rise gracefully against the backdrop of the blue sky above.
Glaciers had commanding role in shaping Mt. Baker into what it is today, and it still remains heavily glaciated. The glaciers are relatively healthy thanks to heavy snowfalls that keep them from depleting, unlike the fate of many other United States glaciers.
Watch the slow swirl of steam rising and dissipating into the atmosphere around Mt. Baker in this time-lapse video of the week!