A new textbook, “Snow and Ice-Related Hazards, Risks, and Disasters”, is scheduled for release October 15 as part of Elsevier’s Hazards and Disasters series. With 80+ authors and 800+ pages, the textbook covers a range of diverse cryospheric hazards, from permafrost degradation to avalanches, as well as a number of glacier hazards, including chapters on: glacier surges, glacier outburst floods, glacier loss and slope stability, glacierized volcanoes, and glacier-derived sea level rise. A chapter on “Radioactive Waste Under Conditions of Future Ice Ages” even sounds mildly intriguing! The target audience is applied earth and environmental scientists. The pre-order purchase price is currently c. 100 USD via elsevier.com. As an overly keen contributing author, I have of course already ordered my copy!
Monthly Archives: October 2014
The environmental assessment certificate of Jumbo Glacier Resort is set to lapse. The certificate was issued to Glacier Resorts Ltd. in 2004, to build an all-season ski resort in the Purcell Mountains, in Southwest British Columbia, Canada. The absence of a “substantial start” to construction by October 12 would mean the ten-year old environmental assessment certificate cannot be renewed. The Ktunaxa First Nation have contested the project, primarily over concerns it would threaten the Qat’muk Grizzly Bear population. The project would also develop four glaciers (Dome, Jumbo, Commander and Farnham) within a larger ski area. The completed resort would have twenty ski lifts, ferrying skiers up to 3,400 metres elevation, with a 6,300 bed ski village in the valley below. Unlike Europe, North America does not seem to have a particularly strong tradition of developing glaciers into skiing areas.
This past week the Icelandic Meteorology Office named 130 glaciers on the Tröllaskagi Peninsula in north-central Iceland. Most of the new glacier names refer to local landmarks. Until recently, many of the previously unnamed glaciers had appeared to be white perennial snowfields, rather than blue ice glaciers, in satellite imagery. Retreating snow lines, however, have begun revealing underlying glacier ice since c. 1996. A glacier snowline marks the lowest elevation limit where year-round snow exists. Climate change is causing an upward migration of snowlines at most Arctic glaciers, due to increased surface melt during the summer season. So, although all of Iceland’s monitored glaciers are consistently exhibiting negative surface mass balance, and recent climate change has committed c. 35 ± 11 % of Iceland’s glacier volume (or c. 850,000,000,000 tons of ice!) to disappear, even in the absence of further climate change, some good new for Iceland: It’s glacier population is growing on paper!
Mernild, S. H., Lipscomb, W. H., Bahr, D. B., Radić, V., and Zemp, M.: Global glacier changes: a revised assessment of committed mass losses and sampling uncertainties, The Cryosphere, 7, 1565-1577, doi:10.5194/tc-7-1565-2013, 2013.
The Siachen Glacier conflict shows signs of thawing. This week Pakistan’s Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Haji Muhammad Adeel has called for Siachen Glacier to be declared a non-military zone. India and Pakistan have disputed ownership of the 70 km glacier, and 1000+ square kilometers of surrounding territory, since it was occupied by India in 1984. In the subsequent three decades of conflict India and Pakistan are estimated to have each suffered approximately 2000 fatalities, primarily due to extreme environmental conditions (a ceasefire was declared in 2003). The border between Pakistan and India in the Siachen Glacier region was left undeclared in the 1972 Simla Agreement.
Of interest to glacier watchers: Haji Muhammad Adeel cited increased human activities on the glacier that have accelerated surface melt, as well as increased natural hazards in the form of flash floods and changing weather patterns, in his call for both countries to withdraw their troops from the glacier basin. With approximately 3000 soldiers from each country stationed in the valley, the Siachen Glacier is presumably the most densely populated glacier in the world. If withdrawal does happen, the extensive military infrastructure would offer great logistical support for civilian science in a region where glaciers are an exceptionally important water source in a changing climate!