Roundup: “Wild card” glaciers, luxury ice cubes, & glacial dynamics

This West Antarctica glacier is a ‘wild card’ for world’s coastlines

An edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf.
An edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf. Courtesy of Jim Yungel / NASA

“Scientists who have been raising alarms about the endangered ice sheet of West Antarctica say they’ve identified a key glacier that could pose the single most immediate threat to the world’s coastlines – and are pushing for an urgent new effort to study it. The glacier is not one that most Americans will have even heard of – Thwaites Glacier along the Amundsen Sea. It’s a monstrous body that is bigger than Pennsylvania and has discharged over 100 billion tons of ice each year in recent years.

The glacier is both vast and vulnerable, because its ocean base is exposed to warm water and because of an unusual set of geographic circumstances that mean that if it starts collapsing, there may be no end to the process. But it’s also difficult to study because of its location – not near any U.S. research base, and in an area known for treacherous weather. As a result, the researchers are also calling for more support from the federal government to make studying West Antarctica’s glaciers, and Thwaites in particular, a top priority.”

To read more about the Twhaites ice shelf, click here.

Luxury ice cubes? Greens slam ‘insane’ plan to carve Norway glacier


Courtesy of  “A controversial plan to harvest ice cubes from a melting Norwegian glacier and sell them in luxury bars across the globe has drawn criticism from the head of WWF Norge, who said that such an idea proves the world has gone completely insane….
The idea to use parts of Svartisen – mainland Norway’s second largest glacier which is projected to melt over the next century – is being pushed forward by Norwegian company Svaice. In FebruarySvaice won a grant from the local Meloy municipality, which is enthusiastically backing the project and is due to meet on Wednesday to decide on the project’s future.”
Read more here.

Observed latitudinal variations in erosion as a function of glacier dynamics

UBC scientist Michele Koppes
UBC scientist Michele Koppes. Courtesy: Michele Koppes

“Climate change is causing more than just warmer oceans and erratic weather. According to scientists, it also has the capacity to alter the shape of the planet. In a five-year study published today in Nature, lead author Michele Koppes, assistant professor in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia, compared  in Patagonia and in the Antarctic Peninsula. She and her team found that glaciers in warmer Patagonia moved faster and caused more erosion than those in Antarctica, as warmer temperatures and melting ice helped lubricate the bed of the glaciers.

“We found that glaciers erode 100 to 1,000 times faster in Patagonia than they do in Antarctica,” said Koppes. “Antarctica is warming up, and as it moves to temperatures above 0 degrees Celsius, the glaciers are all going to start moving faster. We are already seeing that the ice sheets are starting to move faster and should become more erosive, digging deeper valleys and shedding more sediment into the oceans.”

To learn more about the study’s findings, click here.

Roundup: Grounding Lines, Fault Lines and Algae-filled Pits

NASA reports on the Hidden Melting of Greenland’s Glaciers

“What’s causing this ‘big thaw’? Rignot’s team found that Greenland’s glaciers flowing into the ocean are grounded deeper below sea level than previously measured. This means that the warm ocean currents at depth can sweep across the glacier faces and erode them.“In polar regions, the upper layers of ocean water are cold and fresh,” he explains. “Cold water is less effective at melting ice. The real ocean heat is at a depth of 350-400 meters and below. This warm, salty water is of subtropical origin and melts the ice much more rapidly.”

To learn more, click here.

Biological interactions between Microalgae and Glacial Grazers

Microalgae. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

“Glaciers are known to harbor surprisingly complex ecosystems. On their surface, distinct cylindrical holes filled with meltwater and sediments are considered as hot spots for microbial life. The present paper addresses possible biological interactions within 5 the community of prokaryotic cyanobacteria and eukaryotic microalgae (microalgae) and relations to their potential grazers, additional to their environmental controls…. We propose that, for the studied glaciers, nutrient levels related to recycling of limiting nutrients is the main factor driving variation in the community structure of microalgae and grazers.”

Read more about the study here.

Italy’s glaciers retreated by 40 percent: WWF

Matterhorn glacier
Courtesy of Wikipedia

“ROME: Alpine glaciers in Italy have lost an estimated 40 percent of their area over the last three decades, a recent report released by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has said.
“The situation of glaciers on the Italian side of the Alps is very worrying,” Xinhua news agency on Friday quoted Gianfranco Bologna, scientific director of WWF-Italy and co-author of the report as saying. The Hot Ice report was unveiled earlier this week, ahead of a crucial United Nations Climate Change Conference due to be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11.”

Read more here.


A Professional Glacier

A picture of Ray Lloyd as Glacier doing his Cryonic Kick
Ray Lloyd “Glacier” doing his Cryonic Kick finishing move (source:Ray Lloyd/Facebook)


Ray Lloyd is a professional wrestler who has wrestled under the name “Glacier” since 1996. Born in Georgia, a state with no glaciers, Ray as a boy enjoyed superheroes, professional wrestling, and martial arts. He took up martial arts himself at the age of 15.  In high school and college Ray participated in and enjoyed other sports, like football, and eventually in his senior year of college decide to try wrestling. In a telephone interview earlier this month, he said that wrestling “felt like a natural fit.” He went on to sign professionally with World Championship Wrestling in 1990, when he was twenty-six. The WCW was one of the largest professional wrestling organizing bodies at the time, often competing for both talent and exposure with the World Wrestling Federation, or WWF. Both bodies turned into today’s World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE, in a series of mergers in 2001 and 2002.

A picture of Ray Lloyd "Glacier" in his "battle armor"
Glacier in full gear. (Source: Mike Kalasnik/Flickr)

When Ray was thirty-one, in the winter of 1995, he mentioned to Eric Bischoff, the then president of WCW, that he wanted to use his martial arts abilities more extensively in the ring. This idea quickly took off inside the organization and resulted in a very dramatic debut of a new “gimmick,” the term in wrestling circles for a character, particularly one with a distinctive persona. Beginning in 1996, Ray started  wrestling under the ring name “Glacier.” WCW promoted the story that he has returned  from studies in Japan, where he had become an expert in an ancient craft that combined wrestling with other martial arts.  In this story, his master bestowed the name Glacier on him as a symbol of the power of nature, and also gave him a helmet that had been passed down from teacher to student for four hundred years. In the interview, Ray mentioned that wrestling, as a form of entertainment, has  long responded to the cultural trends and interests of the time.  In the mid-1990s, the Mortal Kombat franchise, including video games, films, and comic books, had reached a level of great popularity. WCW  wanted to appeal to the same esthetic when they created his Glacier “gimmick”, taking particular influence from a Mortal Kombat character named Sub-Zero.

I wondered about the source of Ray’s ring name. When I asked him about it, he said that there had been a large number of alternatives, and that Glacier was his favorite. When the initial list of over 150 names had been whittled down to a handful, Eric was strongly in favor of “Cryonic.” Ray and a few of his friends decided to campaign for the name Glacier instead, preferring it to Eric’s choice. In the end, a compromise was reached: Ray’s finishing move was called the “cryonic kick,” and Ray’s character was named Glacier. In an odd coincidence, the other final candidate for Ray’s ring name was “Stone Cold,” which also links thematically with “Sub-Zero.” Soon after Ray debuted as Glacier, Steve Austin in the WWF was creating his own gimmick as the now famous “Stone Cold Steve Austin.” Ray said that he has remained very happy with the choice of name, even though, as a friend of his once pointed out to him, glaciers are slow-moving blocks of ice which do not resemble a fighter who combines the light-footedness of a martial arts master with the power of a pro wrestler.

Glacier in the ring (Source: Mike Kalasnik/Flickr)
Glacier in the ring (Source: Mike Kalasnik/Flickr)

Glacier went undefeated in the WCW for a period of  almost twelve months in 1996 and 1997. After a knee injury in 1999, Ray competed less frequently. He also did not like the corporate mergers and changes in marketing that were altering the pro wrestling world at the time. In 2000, Ray left WCW and joined Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling, a new wrestling circuit in the southeast founded by Dusty Rhodes, a legend in pro wrestling. Ray won several championships in this circuit in the early and mid 2000’s. He has continued to be active in the wrestling community, competing in events and helping with promotion and training. He has become an actor as well, with roles in two recent movies, A Free Bird, and Attack of the Morningside Monster, and guest spots on television, including the first season finale of Burn Notice.

Ray stated that the Glacier character remains a central part of art of his life. It’s the name that many of his friends use for him (and one calls him “Block of Ice.”)   If he sees a photograph of a glacier, or reads a newspaper article about one, it has a meaning and relevance for him, and he suspects it always will.  He added  that visiting Glacier National Park is “on his bucket list.” Though he does not feel that he can know what will happen to our world in the next several decades, he “certainly wouldn’t want to be the only glacier left.”

The greatest honor in life, he said, was walking into a small room full of legendary pro wrestlers, and realizing that they looked on him as a peer. He said he “gets the same thrill wrestling in front of fifty people as he does in front of fifty thousand.” His intention has always been “just to give people their money’s worth,” and “hopefully help people to enjoy life and help them forget about their troubles for a while.” In a way, Glacier doesn’t seem like such a strange gimmick for someone with an attitude like that. Like glaciers on mountains, Ray has given people enjoyment and inspiration by showing them something exceptional.