We are getting used to perceiving glaciers more and more distant and disconnected from our mountains. With each passing year, it is more difficult to observe them, reach them or climb them. They are becoming an exotic element of the Alpine imagination. When our gaze rests on a mountain glacier, with its crevasses and large moraines, we are filled with the fascination of someone observing a new nat ...[Read More]
Why the 2022 Italian snow drought matters to you
June 2022: I was discussing the ongoing drought with my family over lunch, when my dad pointed to me and summarized things as follows: “You know, less snow in winter means less water in summer!” I almost choked … what? Not only was it the first time I realized my family had been listening to my scientific anecdotes for years, but I also had concrete evidence now that snow was entering public ...[Read More]
A place called home?
Welcome to Kongsfjorden in Svalbard. The front of the glaciers terminating into the sea is an ecological hotspot, home to many marine animals, like kittiwakes, who love to hunt here. They feed on small fish and shrimp, which at marine-terminating glacier fronts are brought to the surface by upwelling glacial meltwater. Retreating glaciers lose their contact with the ocean As the planet warms these ...[Read More]
CryoAdventures – Three months in Nuuk, the world’s northernmost capital!
I have just returned from nearly three months in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, where I was doing my PhD placement at Asiaq Greenland Survey. Read on to find out what science I got up to… everything from mapping mountain glacier snowline change to avalanches! How do you map glacier snowline evolution? During my PhD research placement, I was working at Asiaq Greenland Survey in their Hydrolo ...[Read More]
Did you know about the weathering crust? Five things you never knew about glacier surfaces
To the untrained eye, the melting surface of glaciers and ice sheets can look a little boring. It’s bright in some places, dark in others, and there are lots of things to fall over and (hopefully not) get your feet wet in. However, a huge range of processes are occurring both upon and just underneath the ice surface, in a 50-ish cm thick layer of ice called the weathering crust (or the “crust” for ...[Read More]
Did you know that glacier mass loss affects water resources?
The picture above shows a typical Kyrgyz summer yurt camp, located in the valley of Altyn-Arashan, Kyrgyzstan. The stream you see flowing through comes from the glacier-fed lake of Ala-Kul, the gorgeous turquoise water featured below. The families who live there during summer have done so for generations, and travel up with their herds of horses and cows. The stream provides the water they need fo ...[Read More]
Subglacial Hydrology For Dummies – Water, water everywhere…
Glaciers are mostly made of water. Sometimes, perhaps more than we’d like, some of that water makes a break for it by melting, the inconstant molecule… It might pootle around on the surface of the glacier a bit and get a lot of remote sensers very excited, but it’s what it does once it gets to the base of the glacier that really matters for the behaviour and flow of the ice. So, in 2000 word ...[Read More]
Image of the Week – What darkens snow and ice?
“Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow”. Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 1 (W. Shakespeare) Snow and ice are not always as pristine as one may think. If you have ever walked on a glacier or on a snowfield during summer, you might have already noticed that. In fact, both snow and ice are often darkened by impurities. In this blog post, you will learn about the main processes leading to ice and snow darkeni ...[Read More]
Exploring the hidden plumbing of glaciers with Cryoegg
Plumbing is something we take for granted: the pipes that bring us water to wash and drink, and the pipes that take the waste water away again. We see the taps and basins in our kitchen and bathroom – but the pipes are hidden away under the floor or inside the walls – and we mostly ignore them until there’s a leak or a blockage! It turns out that glaciers have plumbing too – and ...[Read More]
What’s up on Thwaites Glacier?
With the West Antarctic Ice Sheet currently losing ice at a fast pace, leading to sea-level rise, it is very important to better understand the processes by which this ice melting occurs. In this context, Thwaites Glacier is a very good case study of an accelerating glacier, which contributes substantially to sea-level rise, and for which a huge scientific collaboration effort has recently been se ...[Read More]