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The_Global_Warmer

Global Land Glacier thread for all land ice outside of Greenland and Antarctica

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http://www.nature.com/news/tibetan-glaciers-shrinking-rapidly-1.11010

 

First off, bravo to these Scientists for their candid honesty in collaboration with "boots" on the ground.

 

I am assuming glacial lakes will evaporate.  They don't go into greater detail in the article.

 

 

The study raises serious issues with assessments based on GRACE measurements. Some climate scientists say that the measurements were taken over too short a time to capture the impact of climate change. Others question whether the satellite is suited to studying ice changes in the Third Pole.

The Tibetan plateau contains closed catchments where glacier melts can be stored in lakes, the soil and underground. A survey by Yao and his colleagues found that the area of glacial lakes on the plateau has increased by about 26% since the 1970s. “As the GRACE satellites can only feel the gravitational pull and can’t tell the difference between ice and liquid water, they may have mistaken expanding glacial lakes for increases in glacier mass,” says Yao.

John Wahr, a remote-sensing expert at the University of Colorado Boulder and lead author of the GRACE study, concedes that the criticism is valid. “This is an important weakness of GRACE for any non-polar glacier study,” he says.

“The study highlights the complexity of glacier responses in the region and the importance of ground truth for making accurate assessments,” says Lonnie Thompson, a glaciologist at Ohio State University in Columbus, and a co-author of the latest paper. “Mass-balance studies are extremely labour intensive and can often be dangerous, but there is never a substitute for boots on the ground.”

 

 

 

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-03-25/news/38010254_1_glaciers-mass-balance-black-carbon

 

 

Ongoing research over more than 30 years has also given scientists a new understanding of pollution on the Tibetan Plateau, Yao said claiming that most of the pollutants were coming from South Asia.

Latest investigations now show that black carbon generated from industrial production in South Asia is being taken to the Tibetan Plateau by the Indian monsoon in spring and summer, he said in a report in state-run China Daily.

"The accumulation of black carbon on the plateau will accelerate the shrinking of glaciers, bringing with it persistent organic pollutants that will be deposited in the soil" he said.

An investigation using topographic maps and satellite images revealed the retreat of 82 glaciers, area reduction by 7,090 glaciers and the mass-balance change of 15 glaciers, the Daily report said.

"Systematic differences in glacier status are apparent from region to region, with the most pronounced shrinkage in the Himalayas, the south eastern part of the region. Some of the glaciers there are very likely to disappear by 2030," Yao said.

"The shrinkage generally decreases from the Himalayas to the continental interior and is smallest in the western part. Some glaciers there are even growing," he said.

He said changes in the glaciers will be accelerated if the planet continues to warm.

Potential consequences would be unsustainable water supplies from major rivers and geo-hazards, such as glacier lake expansion and flooding, which could threaten the well-being of people downstream.

 

 

Where have we all seen this before?  Same thing happening to GIS and probably other Glaciers in the NH.  At least Antarctica is probably safe from human influenced impurities.

 

http://www.nature.com/news/glaciologists-to-target-third-pole-1.10382
 

 

 

A 2010 study using measurements taken by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission indicated that the Third Pole is shedding roughly 50 gigatonnes of ice per year1. And an unpublished inventory of Tibetan glaciers led by Liu Shiyin at the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute in Lanzhou, China, shows that more than 70% of the glaciers on the Tibetan plateau are retreating. But an analysis2 this year of GRACE data suggests that overall, high-altitude Asian glaciers are losing ice only one-tenth as fast as the previous estimates, and that those in the Tibetan Plateau are actually growing on average.

High-stakes data

Yet many glaciologists are sceptical about the latest GRACE results. “When satellite data are in stark contrast to what many glaciologists have experienced through decades of field research, one must question their validity,” says Pradeep Mool, a remote-sensing expert at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Detailed analyses of 25 glaciers will not settle the controversy, but “they’re a good starting point”, says glaciologist Koji Fujita at Nagoya University in Japan. As well as assessing mass balance, the team will set up several comprehensive observatories to monitor the weather and solar radiation and measure properties of the snow, soil and ice, says Daqing Yang, a hydrologist at Environment Canada in Gatineau, who is involved in the study. It will also test methods for measuring snow amounts at high elevations — “a missing but badly needed piece of information in mountain research”, says Yang.

Imtiaz Rangwala, a climatologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who is not involved in the TPE, says that the stations may help to resolve a pressing problem about climate change in high regions. Many climate simulations suggest that higher elevations will warm faster than lower ones, but Rangwala and his colleague James Miller reported last month that many mountain regions do not follow such a clear pattern3. The campaign, he says “will bridge a major knowledge gap in mountain research, especially at a time when high-elevation observatory stations elsewhere are at risk of being closed down due to lack of funding”.

 

 

 

As sad as it is to see the ecosystem in this part of the world being destroyed.  It's refreshing to see the local/regional scientists who have been studying this for decades start to show some panic over reality than an ecosystem that helps support hundreds of millions of people being destroyed. 

 

At the same time when the grace data came out all of the so called skeptics and deniers in Europe and the USA proudly laughed at the IPCC report which deserves the criticism.  However at the same time, I never saw any of this.  All of these study's were out before and since.  It was at least less than 1 year later that the grace data was called out, even the people did the remote sensing admitted it's likely wrong.

 

Considering Grace's resolution is 200KM, and the Tibetan region is still rising at different rates in different spots it's not going to work like it does in GIS and Antarctica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here's a bunch of resources on land ice:

http://glacierchange.wordpress.com/

And if you haven't read it, Mark Bowen's Thin Ice is a fantastic book:

http://www.mark-bowen.com/book_ti.html

The outlooks for these glaciers are of course all quite bleak; and so are the outlooks for the communities that depend on glacial runoff for irrigation, drinking water, and hydro. For whole regions in the Andes -- millions of people -- this will be a disaster.

The wealthier mountain dwellers are trying to adapt. Some of the Austrian and Swiss towns that depend on their glaciers as the main skiing attraction have been experimenting with shrouding them in summer and augmenting the snowfall. Its feasible only for smallish "cash register" glaciers in the Alps.

If you're a climber or mountaineer in the US48 you know that the time left for this alpine ice is short. Yosemite's Lyell glacier icepatch is grounded out:

http://glaciers.research.pdx.edu/glaciers-california

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2064713&tn=0&mr=0

HAWdU2s.png

Lyell Glacier in 1904 (left, YNP) and in 2003 (right, photo by Hassan Basagic)

QvuzDSz.png

In 2013. Photo by summitpost climber artrock23.

Maclure glacier next to it is still moving. I suggest you go see the Sierra glaciers while you still can.

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I bet those glaciers were much more amazing in 1600AD than 1850AD. Too bad we have no pictures.

..? I don't understand what you are trying to say.

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..? I don't understand.

 

The earth was warmer in 1900 than 1600AD... Those glaciers were at a peak in the 1600's... We have been losing them for 300 years.

 

You understand too.

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The earth was warmer in 1900 than 1600AD... Those glaciers were at a peak in the 1600's... We have been losing them for 300 years.

You understand too.

How is the chronology for glaciation in the Sierra subdivided, what is the name of the most recent episode, and when was its approximate end?

How about for the Pasterze, Vernagtferner, and their friends in the Eastern Alps?

One of my favorite paintings; I like the early 19th century fascination with mountain landscape.

ZFXPuOol.jpg

The Großglockner and the Pasterze by Thomas Ender (1830)

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Also here is one of if not the earliest depiction (1601) of an alpine glacier, the Vernagtferner damming the Rofen valley. The glacial dam unleashed catastrophic outburst floods throughout the 1600s, 1700s, and the last was in 1848.

YwyJ4ov.png

Rofener Eissee by Abraham Jäger, located in the Tiroler Landesmuseum.

Here's a cool SciAm blog post about it.

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/history-of-geology/2011/12/26/cursed-glaciers/

I like the comic:

Fig.3. & 4. The advancing and retreating Vernagtferner as depicted in 1911 by artist Rudolf Reschreiter (sitting in the foreground of the drawing). Prof. S. Finsterwalder, famous geographer that compiled the first modern map of this glacier at the end of the 19th century, is surprised by the advancing Vernagtferner, however the glacier doesn’t seem to appreciate the taste of the professor (image in public domain).

0h61zD1l.jpg

Oo6rfCd.png

Here's a tinted dagtype of the Gurgler Ferner's icedam that would have looked similar (the Gurgler Eissee behind the Gurgler Ferner, in the Gurglertal, near the beautiful town of Obergurgl).

qLS2FaL.png

From glaziologie.de

Anywise, here's a (click link for big) panorama of the Ötztal in 1869 (from paintings) and a 2005 photo:

http://i.imgur.com/IYIzqhx.png

IYIzqhxl.jpg

The Vernagtferner is over on the right. (From glaziologie.de, legend and more at the link http://www.glaziologie.de/vernagt/animationen/Panorama/Kreuzspitze1869_2005.htm)

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Lol, this was such a great discussion pulling up old romantic paintings and using them for evidence.

Yeah! Its really neat. The two most famous ones might be Munch's Scream, showing the red sunset of Krakatoa's dust:

NnntEO7.png

And what some historians argue is a radical change in depictions of winter during the LIA, Hendrick Averkamp's landscape being one such:

ZQcSMKql.jpg

Though I'd agree with many of the caveats here:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/03/art-and-climate/

The wikis on the topic are reasonable, and here's a Guardian piece.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/oct/01/climatechange.scienceofclimatechange

Of course its not just climate: historians also go looking for depictions of astronomical phenomena like comets, e.g.

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Some of the most fascinating art history is the intersection with science, culture, geography, and optics. A really good example is Albert Eckhout's ethnographic paintings of new world natives along with flora and fauna. Another good one is US geological & geographical photography and survey drawing in the American west, which along with Powell's writing arguably founded a whole bunch of aesthetic preferences in American landscape art about shape and color.

Dave Roberts had a really cool book on the photographer, geographer, and explorer Bradford Washburn (founded and directed the Boston Museum of Science too!) which is worth a read.

Here's a few of his shots from Panopticon gallery, which keeps his photo estate:

ft9g3B8.png

Bradford Washburn, After The Storm, Climbers on East Ridge of the Doldenhorn (11,952') in the Swiss Alps. Taken on July 24, 1960 out of a Super Cub 150 airplane on ski wheels, flying out of Belp, near Berne, Switzerland.

dExoYQP.png

Bradford Washburn, Barnard Glacier and Mt. Natazhat from the south, August 6,1938; on the Alaska - Yukon frontier.

LHXY1ww.png

Bradford Washburn, A glacier turns a corner, bend of Shoup Glacier, Alaska, 1938 (#1126)

Roberts writes movingly about how Washburn's photographs -- half landscape, half survey -- were what got him started on his obsessions with Foraker, Hunter, and Denali. Sort of in the same way young men and women are driven to do crazy things by looking at maps.

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wow thank you for all of that.  Endo China is starting to panic.

 

You mean Indochina?

 

Vietnam needs to take their qualms to China then, one of the only countries going backward in emissions. 

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sokolow

While not as dramatic as burning witches for causing glaciers to advance the proposed linkage between massive Illinois tornadoes and same sex marriage follows the same time honored tradition. 

http://climatecrocks.com/2013/12/13/new-right-wing-climate-theory-tornadoes-stronger-because-gays/

The few glaciers that I've seen have all been in retreat since my earliest visits. Wish I'd kept track of photos I'd taken near the Mendenhall Glacier back in the mid 60's and the Columbia Glacier in the mid 70's.

Your artist's eye views of climate change are wonderful - looking forward to more.

Terry

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sokolow

While not as dramatic as burning witches for causing glaciers to advance the proposed linkage between massive Illinois tornadoes and same sex marriage follows the same time honored tradition. 

http://climatecrocks.com/2013/12/13/new-right-wing-climate-theory-tornadoes-stronger-because-gays/

The few glaciers that I've seen have all been in retreat since my earliest visits. Wish I'd kept track of photos I'd taken near the Mendenhall Glacier back in the mid 60's and the Columbia Glacier in the mid 70's.

Your artist's eye views of climate change are wonderful - looking forward to more.

Terry

Thanks! What brought you out to Alaska at the time?

There might be some old pictures of aliens in ancient hierogyph too that some believe are real.

I'm sorry. I don't understand what you're trying to say. Can you be a little more clear?

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There might be some old pictures of aliens in ancient hierogyph too that some believe are real.

 

If you are trying to imply that old records such as paintings, surveys, ships' logs, and so forth are not usable data because ancient pictographs are sometimes interpreted by the pseudo-scientific fringe as representing aliens then you are just being stupid or dishonest.  There is no similarity between the two.  

 

The images of glaciers and Frost Fairs that Sokolow linked to were state-of-the-art records for their time - and can be the best data sources available.  It would be great if we had a time machine that could capture high-resolution photos of past scenes but we don't.  To paraphase former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield - Science uses the data it has, not the data it wants.

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I personally am not inclined to buy the frost fairs - and - Dutch masters line of argument. I'm more persuaded by the ideal-landscapes critique offered by Realclimate. But your overall point I absolutely agree with and belive is pretty important -- that art can serve as a form of historical evidence like any other.

Its just a matter of treating the source critically and thinking through as best you can what its conditions of production might be. Early geography and mapmaking would be a good illustration of the kind of caution a historian would need to apply.

So yeah. "Ohno. Tacitus probably fabricated the speech of Calgacus for artistic and political purposes. I guess I better throw all the classical historians in the garbage and start babbling about ancient aliens, like an idiot."

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As an aside, For ships' logs, especially for sealers and whalers, there's a very good reason why they might be deliberately and consistently falsified. There's also a solid argument IMO that some of Columbus' logs and his celestial navigation were systematically falsified to support his crazy 'nipple earth' idea.

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If you are trying to imply that old records such as paintings, surveys, ships' logs, and so forth are not usable data because ancient pictographs are sometimes interpreted by the pseudo-scientific fringe as representing aliens then you are just being stupid or dishonest.  There is no similarity between the two.  

 

The images of glaciers and Frost Fairs that Sokolow linked to were state-of-the-art records for their time - and can be the best data sources available.  It would be great if we had a time machine that could capture high-resolution photos of past scenes but we don't.  To paraphase former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield - Science uses the data it has, not the data it wants.

 

 

He is trying to pretend AGW is not real because he loves snow. That is all.

 

Frank offers nothing in this forum except he tried to cast doubt on AGW without any sort of reasonable and worthwhile input.

 

 

 

Back in reality check this out:

 

 

http://glacierchange.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/building-a-30-year-glacier-mass-balance-time-series/

 

http://www.nichols.edu/departments/glacier/mount%20baker%20hyp.9453.pdf

 

The above video looks at the effort behind a long term field study, looking at images from 11 of the 30 years of our research, digital cameras became good then. Long term monitoring programs have until recently been unattractive for federal grantmakers, since they are not directly advancing the frontiers of science. However, many long duration time series from monitoring programs do advance science eventually as the response to changes in environmental or climate conditions are documented. In 1984, I responded to a request from the US National Academy of Sciences, “to monitor glaciers across an ice clad mountain range”, something that was not being done anywhere in Norther America. Thirty years later we are still pursuing this project. We have developed a 30 years time series of glacier mass balance on glaciers across the North Cascades of Washington. To ensure that the program could be sustained, we did not pursue any federal funding for the project. The data we, collect is submitted to the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) each year, the regional time series built in the North Cascade is just part of the contribution to the global glacier mass balance time series at WGMS. The cumulative North Cascades glacier mass balance record is in fact quite similar to the cumulative global mass balance time series. For the globe there have been 22 consecutive years of negative mass balance, that is the reality of the impact of global warming on mountain glaciers around the globe. The impact on the glaciers of Mount Baker was recently published Pelto and Brown (2012)

 

 

slide1.jpg

 

 

globally it's accelerating bad bad

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So on the question: what can you do, exactly, with documentary and artistic records of climate, weather, and geophysical events there are a bunch of Swiss who have thought a lot about this topic and I mean a LOT about this topic with publications on glaciology and historical sources going back 30odd years.

Here is a paper that's really enjoyable and accessible on the web for free, "19th century glacier representations and fluctuations in the central and western European Alps: An interdisciplinary approach" by H.J. Zumbühl, D. Steiner, and S.U. Nussbaumer.

http://www.phzh.ch/dotnetscripts/MAPortrait_Data/131444/6/Zumbuehl_et_al_2008.pdf

I said to myself, "Gee I'll be really disappointed if the lead author doesn't look hilariously Swiss" but alas there were no good pictures of him online, so you'll have to settle for Herr Prof. Dr. Wilfried Haeberli who comes up later in this post:

J7IdqiI.png

Anywise, their methods section is what is of interest:

2.2. Historical sources in glaciology

If sufficient in quality and quantity, written documents and pictorial historical records (paintings, sketches, engravings, photographs, chronicles, topographic maps, reliefs) provide a detailed picture of glacier fluctuations over the last few centuries. Using these data, we can achieve a resolution of decades or, in some cases, even individual years of ice margin positions (Zumbühl and Holzhauser, 1988; Holzhauser et al., 2005). The density of historical material prior to 1800 highly depends on the elevation of the tongue and the relationship between settlements and cultivated land and the glacier advances.

Historical data have to be considered carefully and local circumstances need to be taken into account. The evaluation of historical sources, the so-called historical method, has to fulfill some conditions in order to obtain reliable results concerning former glacier extents (Zumbühl and Holzhauser, 1988): Firstly, the dating of the document has to be known or recon-structed. This often includes labour-intensive archive work. Secondly, the glacier and its surroundings have to be represented realistically and topographically correct which requires certain skills of the correspond-ing artist. In addition, the artist's topographic position should be known; prominent features in the glacier's surroundings such as rock steps, hills or mountain peaks facilitate the evaluation of historical documentary data.

Note that for both the Lower Grindelwald Glacier, and the Mer de Glace, there is a wealth of historical (pictorial) documents which has been evaluated. Probably the best example of a glacier curve derived from historical sources is the series of cumulative length changes of the Lower Grindelwald Glacier (Zumbühl, 1980; Zumbühl et al., 1983).

This boils down to, "welp, it depends." So for the Abraham Jäger depiction, the topography &c aren't so "realistically" represented according to our contemporary preferences but you could wager he got the right valley by relative positions, same as with a schematic climbing topo, and at least the position of the glacier. In any case we don't need to rely on Jäger's painting to tell us this happened, although we could, because we have letters to Rudolf II from the high and mighties in the Tirol and Vorarlberg complaining about the damage from the outburst flood and discussing Hofbauschreiber Jäger's assignment, and so on. Its extremely well attested.

I've ordered in the 1988 publication that contains their historical method, and I'm looking forward to reading it!

But what kind of artistic depiction does it take to do more detailed, exact science on glacial extent? The authors have a number of examples. What is of notice is that in these scenes the artist Birmann is a romantic in terms of color palette and setting, but his attention to topographic detail is photorealistic:

Click for art:

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Fig. 3. The Swiss artist Samuel Birmann (1793–1847) portrayed (a) the Lower Grindelwald Glacier in September 1826 (39.2 × 49.7 cm; pencil, pen, watercolor, bodycolor), ( b )the Mer de Glace in August 1823 (44.3 × 58.9 cm; pencil, pen, watercolor, bodycolor). Kupferstichkabinett, Kunstmuseum Basel. Photographs by Heinz J. Zumbühl.

---

fXk0x5L.jpg

Fig. 9. (a) The Lower Grindelwald Glacier 1858 in the valley floor, 2–3 years after the maximum extent in 1855/56 (31.9 × 25.2 cm). Photograph by Frédéric Martens (1806–1885). Alpine Club Library, London. Photograph by Heinz J. Zumbühl. ( b ) The Lower Grindelwald Glacier 1974. Photograph by Heinz J. Zumbühl, 23.7.1974. Also given is a recent view of the glacier gorge. Photograph by Andreas Bauder, 7.9.2005. The arrow shows the location of the glacier front in 2005.

---

MKAInWe.jpg

Fig. 10. (a) Samuel Birmann portrayed in 1823 the Mer de Glace 1823 from la Flégère (20.6 × 47.1 cm; pencil, pen, watercolor, bodycolor; cut-out). Kupferstichkabinett, Kunstmuseum Basel. Photograph by Heinz J. Zumbühl. ( b ) Recent view of the Mer de Glace. Photograph by Samuel U. Nussbaumer, 8.10.2005. Again, the arrow shows the location of the glacier front in 2005.

and so they incorporate his scenes into their reconstruction:

BMFSF8p.png

Fig. 7. Cumulative length variations of the Lower Grindelwald Glacier (solid line; Zumbühl, 1980; Holzhauser and Zumbühl, 1996, 2003; Steiner et al., in press) and the Mer de Glace (dashed line; data 1911–2003 from the Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement LGGE; Nussbaumer et al., in press) from 1800 onwards, relative to the 1600s maximum extent. The points on the curves indicate the ice margin locations as depicted in Figs. 3–6 and 9–10.

Alright so what all does that mean? Aforementioned Wilfried Haeberli has this to say in Darkening Peaks: Glacier Retreat, Science, and Society:

JCU2CbE.png

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The upshot is a commonsensical "culture changes" and "sometimes artists have different purposes & traditions" and "that happened in alpine european landscape art." Take it for read that art historians can lay a solid bet on what artists are up to, can discern how their cultural and artistic context effects how they do their painting, and whether that lends their work a mythic-religious, enlightenment, romantic, or scientific-documentary tinge, and to what extent, and can "control" for that when using art as historical evidence.

BTW one of the more famous contrasts in the shift from "the mountains are a scary place you should stay away from" to "OORAH YEAH LETS GET RAW AND GET HR0NY WITH NATURE" is Philip James De Loutherbourg's An Avalanche in the Alps (1803) (top) and Caspar David Friedrich's Wanderer above the Sea of Cloud (1818) (bottom). In the former (early romantic) painting note the gentrified city idiots about to get hit by rocks and ice and crap, while the wise rustic local guide hangs back. The latter (high romantic) is of course an ideal that like, freakin', dominates the aesthetics of alpinism to this very day.

Click for art:

8iUMyXb.jpg

5BUOQyk.png

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Here's a bunch of resources on land ice:

http://glacierchange.wordpress.com/

http://extremeicesurvey.org/

And if you haven't read it, Mark Bowen's Thin Ice is a fantastic book:

http://www.mark-bowen.com/book_ti.html

The outlooks for these glaciers are of course all quite bleak; and so are the outlooks for the communities that depend on glacial runoff for irrigation, drinking water, and hydro. For whole regions in the Andes -- millions of people -- this will be a disaster.

The wealthier mountain dwellers are trying to adapt. Some of the Austrian and Swiss towns that depend on their glaciers as the main skiing attraction have been experimenting with shrouding them in summer and augmenting the snowfall. Its feasible only for smallish "cash register" glaciers in the Alps.

If you're a climber or mountaineer in the US48 you know that the time left for this alpine ice is short. Yosemite's Lyell glacier icepatch is grounded out:

http://glaciers.research.pdx.edu/glaciers-california

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2064713&tn=0&mr=0

HAWdU2s.png

Lyell Glacier in 1904 (left, YNP) and in 2003 (right, photo by Hassan Basagic)

QvuzDSz.png

In 2013. Photo by summitpost climber artrock23.

Maclure glacier next to it is still moving. I suggest you go see the Sierra glaciers while you still can.

 

I know that in the Alps, Stubai glacier, Austria, Schneeferner, Germany and Presena Glacier, Italy are all ski area glaciers that the ski companys have been trying to protect from summer melt. It hardly affective and is like trying to stop the bleeding on a huge wound with a tiny band-aide.

 

I was summer skiing in the Alps during July of 1985 and all of the ski areas that we visited, Stubai, Austria, Zermatt Switzerland, Val Senales, Italy and Tignes France, offered 365 day seasons. As of 2013, Zermatt is the only one still going 365 days a year.

 

All of the glaciers that we skied on have shrunk in size, wasting away with strongly negative mass balances by the end of the summer melt season in September. Stubai glacier is about 85% snow free by September, where it needs 70% snowcover, just to maintain equalibrium. The problem that alot of these glaciers have is that they are now located below the summer snowfall line and now get summer rain and melt instead of snow. If these glaciers cannot retreat to an equalibrium elevation, they are doomed.

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^^^ Geez I guess I knew the spaceblankets and snow machines approach was limited to small areas but I didn't know they were that ineffective.

...

Two quick graphs; realized we had since 1980 and 1800, but here's taking in the LIA for four glaciers:

MmDCoAE.png

And this is interesting I thought, the reconstruction displaying density and distribution of the historical data points they used to make it:

8aevajQ.png

From The Little Ice Age history of the Glacier des Bossons (Mont Blanc massif, France): a new high-resolution glacier length curve based on historical documents by Samuel U. Nussbaumer and Heinz J. Zumbühl, Climatic Change, 2012.

http://www.geo.unizh.ch/~snus/publications/nussbaumer_zumbuehl_2012.pdf

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Archaeology from the ice

As temperature continues to warm and glaciers continue their precipitous retreats worldwide, archaeology and allied disciplines have received an odd benefit in numerous artifacts and ancient debris being released for the first time in hundreds, or thousands of years. This post and the next kind of meander through pictures and stories before getting back to the topic of climate change.

Glaciers and ice have a history of spitting up odd and gruesome reminders of the past – the ice mummy Ötzi most famously – and of preserving strange treasures for mountaineers to find.

Last year an alpinist on Mont Blanc turned up $300,000 dollars worth of jewels lost in an Air India crash from the 1960s:

QN4uq03.jpg

AP Photo.

In 1977 a Lockheed Lodestar chock full of dope crashed into Lower Merced Pass Lake and set off a goldrush among the Camp 4 climbing community, who trekked up with Jack Londonesque fervor to hack bales of weed out of the ice. Spoilered picture has image of drugs in case your workplace policy forbids it:

9TKM1Zb.jpg

Photo by Ron Lykins, who was there:

My name is Ron, I lived in Yosemite in 1976 and 1977, worked at the Ahwahnee Hotel. I am one of the so called "hikers" actually on snowshoes, who found the airplane, or the wing as it turned out along the trail to Lower Merced Pass Lake and our ultimate destination, Ottoway Lake, in the Clark range. We never made Lower Merced Pass Lake, pity, I often wonder what would have happened if I had and figured out what happened. When we returned to the valley after camping on Ottoway Lake I reported to the Rangers that we had found a wing in the high country and gave them the numbers from the wing. Well all hell broke lose and in the next few days the entire Valley knew the story of the plane crash.

In April 1977 I returned with seemingly the entire Valley and returned with a backpack full of pot. Which I quickly dried and sold to a friend in San Jose. The next year I went back to college and used the airplane money to make the move to San Diego and pay for my first two years of college.

His whole gallery of the dope excavation is here:

http://public.fotki.com/RonLykins/travel/airplane_1977/

“The first 7 or so are at the lake in April (chopping pot out of the ice) the others are the snowshoe trip when we found the wing, shots of the wing included.¨

By all reports the cargo was thoroughly soaked in aviation fuel:

Largo:

But back then, most of us did smoke weed. Should have seen the flame that would leap off a pipeload of av-gas soaked airplane hemp the moment you put a match to it and huffed hard--like a grease fire suddenly broke out in the corn cobb. The ****e so worked my lungs I eventually gave away most of what I had. I remember one friend--who'd humped out some 100 pounds worth-- showing me a bankrool thick as a Presto Log. He started a business he still runs today.

Two long and highly entertaining threads on the legend here including commentary by a lot of people who were there, assorted authors and climbers of note, and the spouse of one of the flight crew:

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/73572/1977-Airplane-Crash-in-Yosemite

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=68674

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In addition to treasure, the melting glaciers reveal tragedy. One of the places this is most salient is in Trentino-Südtirol.

Area in question from a West Point history dept. map hosted at Wikicommons

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This region was scene to some of the most bitter and terrible fighting of the first World War. Italy's decision to enter the war against the Central Powers was the result of complex geopolitical, domestic and nationalist-irredentist maneuvering with the paradoxical result that some greeted the war with fervor, while others had little if any concrete idea why they were fighting. From Mark Tompson's The White War

When I asked the 109-year-old Carlo Orelli what he had believed he was fighting for, he replied almost testily, ‘Why, Trento and Trieste!’ Another veteran, perhaps the last still alive at this time of writing, Delfino Borroni, gave the same answer to the same question: ‘For Trento. For Trieste. To get what was due to Italy. It was our land. Instead the Germans and the Austrians had chased us away. That wasn’t right.’ Their long dead comrades would say the same – if they could identify a reason at all. With an average age of 20 or 21, pulled straight from labour on the land, many or even most had little idea why they were in uniform. Italy’s war poets noticed a tragic symmetry between the completeness of their comrades’ ignorance and the totality of the sacrifice they were called on to make.

Fresh evidence of this came as recently as 2005, in a series of interviews with surviving veterans, all well over 100 years old. Many confessed to having felt bafflement about Italy’s aims. ‘I did not know why there was a war at all,’ said one. ‘For that matter they didn’t let the troops in on anything. You had to find your reasons for yourself, on the spot.’ Introducing these interviews, the historian Lucio Fabi said the old-timers had forgotten the reasons. Given the vividness of their accounts, they were more likely expressing a truth that has not yet become quite palatable. Lectures by officers on Italy’s goals and purposes did not necessarily leave the blank-faced conscripts any the wiser.

The last living Italian veteran to have enlisted at the start of the war, Carlo Orelli, died in 2005 at age 110.

Fighting on this front took place under some of the most terrible conditions imaginable, even by the standards of the first World War, so much so that there were instances of men refusing to kill any more of their enemies. Thompson again:

Another kind of collusion was so rare that very few instances were recorded on any front. It happened when defending units spontaneously stopped shooting during an attack and urged their enemy to return to their line. On one occasion, the Austrian machine gunners were so effective that the second and third waves of Italian infantry could hardly clamber over the corpses of their comrades. An Austrian captain shouted to his gunners, ‘What do you want, to kill them all? Let them be.’ The Austrians stopped firing and called out: ‘Stop, go back! We won’t shoot any more. Do you want everyone to die?’

Italian veterans described at least half a dozen such cases. In an early battle, the infantry tore forward, scrambling over the broken ground, screaming and brandishing their rifles. The Austrian trench was uncannily silent. The Italian line broke and clotted as it moved up the slope until there were only groups of men hopping from the shelter of one rock to the next, ‘like toads’. Then a voice called from the enemy line: ‘Italians! Go back! We don’t want to massacre you!’ A lone Italian jumped up defiantly and was shot; the others turned and ran. A few weeks earlier, in September 1915, the Austrians urged the survivors of an Italian company to stop fighting and go back to their own line, taking their wounded, or they would all die. ‘You can see there is no escape!’ Eventually the Italians gave up, and the Austrians hurried down with stretchers and cigarettes. The Italians gave them black feathers from their plumed hats and stars from their collars as souvenirs.

A year later, a Sardinian battalion attacked positions on the Asiago plateau where, unusually, no-man’s land sloped downhill towards the Austrians. As the Italians stumbled over boulders, the enemy machine gunners had to keep adjusting their elevation; this saved the battalion from being wiped out. As the survivors drew close to the enemy trench, an Austrian shouted in Italian: ‘That’s enough! Stop firing!’ Other Austrians looking over the parapet took up the cry. When the shooting stopped, the first Austrian, who might have been a chaplain, called to the Italians: ‘You are brave men. Don’t get yourselves killed like this.’

As the war pressed higher into the mountains -- at altitudes up to 12500 feet -- and became fixed to static positions, Italian, Austrian, and German troops began to entrench, tunnel, and carve salients into the glaciers and cliffs themselves. Soldiers would make use of crevasses and caves as the starting points for bunkers and dugouts.

Cutting effective trenches frequently required pneumatic tools. In any case the difficulty of entrneching, relative lack of steel helmets and the rocky terrain meant that splinter wounds to the head were an extremely common way of being killed or injured.

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Here an Italian solider cuts a gangway to a forward position. From Dallo Stelvio al Garda, Alla Scoperta dei Manufatti della Prima Guerra Mondiale.

The Alpini and Kaiserschützen struggled with complex vertical terrain with the aid of ropes and via ferrata;

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Some of these alpine soldiers accomplished free climbing at modern 5.7 wearing hobnailed boots and carrying cumbersome packs and rifles. It made for impressive photo ops as with this Italian observation post on Piz Umbrail:

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From Il Capitano sepolto nei Ghiacci .

Others undertook hazardous rappels into precarious positions, as told in this report on the discovery of a sniper's nest in a rock chimney on Punta Emma written by Supertopo's Blakey. This is a great adventure-mystery tale, but also emphasizes that alpinists and hikers are frequent (re)discoverers of alpine artifacts, which per. Ötzi and the Schnidejoch, is relevant to the work of doing archaeology:

http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Punta-Emma-The-Piaz-Crack-Lee-Harvey-Oswald-and-the-Kennedy-Assassination/t11418n.html

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Photo by Blakey.

Blakey:

The only practical way for the sniper to have got to the firing point would have bee to have been lowered several hundred feet from the summit, presumably at night. There's no way it would have been approached from below as that would have been in view of whoever you were going to be shooting at later in the day.

That kind of rappel on a hemp rope, in darkness, is a hair-raising feat. But the respective armies regularly went to similar great lengths to transport basic supplies, ammunition, and guns via ropeway, cable car, block and tackle...

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... and plain old muscle power. The Austrians used forced labor, requiring gangs of Russian POWs to haul 88 to 150mm artillery all the way to the high reaches of the Ortler.

And some of it is there still, like the three landmark cannons of Cevedale:

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Photo posted by John Race at the Northwest Mountain School blog.

Among all these challenges there was the continual threat of cold, falls, lightning strike, and the danger of avalanche; we think of the mud of the Somme and Passchendaele, but some 50,000 soldiers were buried in avalanches during the mountain war.

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In other words, the melting glaciers of the alps have a lot of hidden tragedy to reveal.

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^^^ Geez I guess I knew the spaceblankets and snow machines approach was limited to small areas but I didn't know they were that ineffective.

...

Two quick graphs; realized we had since 1980 and 1800, but here's taking in the LIA for four glaciers:

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And this is interesting I thought, the reconstruction displaying density and distribution of the historical data points they used to make it:

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From The Little Ice Age history of the Glacier des Bossons (Mont Blanc massif, France): a new high-resolution glacier length curve based on historical documents by Samuel U. Nussbaumer and Heinz J. Zumbühl, Climatic Change, 2012.

http://www.geo.unizh.ch/~snus/publications/nussbaumer_zumbuehl_2012.pdf

Looks like these particular glaciers are remnants from the LIA.... Unless 5ppm co2 caused the cliff dive.

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The post above was rather long, first because this stuff interests me, second because in addition to being a scientific, technical, or economic issue, the rapid retreat of alpine ice is also a cultural and historical phenomenon. "Cultural" is often taken to be something of secondary importance, not quantifiable in dollar terms, and therefore "optional". But cultural means the sense of shared identity that goes into being from a nation or region, and it means our relationship to the past and those that went before. In bluntest terms, cultural means our relationship to the dead.

So when we say the glaciers in the Alps are likely to lose 50% of their area regardless of further warming, that the rate of mass loss in the decade 1996-2005 was twice that of 1986-1995 and four times that of the period 1976-1985 -- overall double the maximum characteristic rate of long-term mass loss in the last two millenia -- we're talking about a profound change in the practical matters of daily life for those who live in or rely on alpine areas. But in the high eastern Alps, the Ortler massif and sourroundings, its also melting out a massive war grave and a historical legacy.

Photos and figures from Luca Carturan of the University of Padova, showing mass balance, areal extent, and comparative photograph of the Careser glacier in the Ortler-Cevedale group.

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Like coventry said upthread these glaciers are not in equilibrium; many haven't "caught up" to the last two decades of warming.

All of the glaciers that we skied on have shrunk in size, wasting away with strongly negative mass balances by the end of the summer melt season in September. Stubai glacier is about 85% snow free by September, where it needs 70% snowcover, just to maintain equalibrium. The problem that alot of these glaciers have is that they are now located below the summer snowfall line and now get summer rain and melt instead of snow. If these glaciers cannot retreat to an equalibrium elevation, they are doomed.

Some 80 or so war dead have come to light in the Alps during recent decades, found by alpinists, tourists, or SAR personnel on exercises. Its never "fun" to find a body, but bodies frozen in the ice can be especially eerie because of their state of preservation and odd location: not just buried in the ice, but frozen into walls and cliffs above eye level.

Spoilered image is of human remains in case you don't care to see such things.

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Musea della Grande Guerra via Laura Spinney

As with any graves registration group, the aim with such finds is to identify the dead and to rebury them with dignity:

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Laura Spinney's lengthy article about this topic is here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/10562017/Melting-glaciers-in-northern-Italy-reveal-corpses-of-WW1-soldiers.html

Spinney notes that in addition to bodies, melting glaciers wash out highly personal artifacts such as letters, poems, and photographs which are frequently still legible.

Also still present are scattered UXO, some in rather large dumps, like this collection of ~200-odd medium caliber shells.

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Maffei Glauco / Trentino Italian / EPA

Not perhaps as impressive as old blockbuster bombs they keep turning up in Germany or dangerous as other landmines and UXO still buried across farmland Europe-wide but awake-making nonetheless.

The discussion above has focused on glaciers, but for archaeologists what is of even more interest is ice patches -- areas of ice that are static or nearly so. "Glacier bodies" and other material can be displaced quite a ways ot sometimes be terribly deformed by the movement of the ice, stretched into bizarre shapes or ground to hamburger. Glaciers, after all, carve rock. The bodies and artifacts they reveal have tended to be decades, or a few hundred years old. In contrast, ice patch finds have revealed objects and remains of Neolithic age.

When ice patches melt out and reveal ancient bodies, leather, textiles, and other artifacts there is a limited time frame to find and retrieve them. Once exposed to sun and wind, they don't last long. Also, in both the case of Ötzi and the Schnidejoch, the first persons on the scene walked off with artifacts of astounding value.

The rapid melting of the glaciers and alpine ice means that researchers cannot rely exclusively on the good fortune of passing hikers. Glacier and alpine ice archaeology in the present and future era of rapid melt requires aerial survey, historical research into most likely passes for prehistoric travel, modeling of glacier melt, identification of likely glacier lobes and connected icefields, meteorological monitoring to alert searchers in times of high melt, and topographic analysis of likely places to locate static ice or depressions and hollows likely to collect debris, artifacts, and remains.

As with the assessment of hazards such as rockslides, wildfire, and glacial lake outbursts, planning for hydrologic impacts, and economic evaluation of changes to tourism, for alpine archaeology rapid climate change unprecedented on a millenium scale is not theory but a pressing reality.

Next time: arcaheology via reindeer crap.

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Looks like these particular glaciers are remnants from the LIA.... Unless 5ppm co2 caused the cliff dive.

Thanks for reminding me to crosspost this for later discussion of Painter and crew's black carbon paper and discussion of worldwide vs regional coherency of the LIA

This ice shelf started breaking up 100 years ago. How could increasing CO2 possibly be to blame here? We exited the Little Ice Age 150 years ago or so when glaciers advanced. Many glaciers started retreating far before CO2 could have done anything to the climate system.

This is of the reasons I re-asked the question up above as: when do human activities cause (plausibly detectable, noticeable, significant, dominant) effect on (local, regional, global) climate or environment on (annual, decadal, century) scales -- so with the land ice question, its: when do CO2 and temperature become a contributing factor in conjucntion with all the other things regional to local (precipitation, radiation, orientation) that affect glacier mass balance. And in fact there's a recent argument out there that the reason European alpine glaciers fall off a cliff mid 19th century is partially on account of albedo effects from industrial particulate ash. Oerlemans otoh claimed in his glacier inventory paper of the early oughts that what we call the LIA actually terminated and marked temperature rise began at the start of the 19th century, and he leaves it open to detection and attribution investigators to sort out why that is. Like we talked about before, glaciers are complex.

OK so given all that if we're going to toss it out there in terms of attribution that human GHG industrial activities are having an effect on worldwide temperatures, when does that effect become pronounced for land ice -- distinct even among all the other possible sources of variation.

I would say the latter half of the 20th century is when changes in land ice show a coherent, global, marked, and accelerating loss of length and mass.

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From the 2007 UNEP report on land ice w/ Zemp and Haeberli lead authors.

Though even then changes in industrial emissions -- regulation in the West, economic collapse in the Eastern bloc -- likely play a part.

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