The First Snowball Earth?

by Emil Morhardt

When did the first ice on Earth occur? About the only way to find out is to find old rocks with evidence of glaciation then determine exactly how old they are. A type of rock characteristic of glaciation is diamictite, a conglomerate-like mix of rocks with a large range of sizes held together with clay or mud that has been metamorphosed into mudstone. The large range of intermixed sizes in these deposits indicates lack of the size sorting that occurs in a river bed or floodplain, so some other source of disruption must have occurred, one of which is being scraped off and bulldozed along by a glacier. David Zakharov at the University of Oregon with a team of scientists from around the world (Zakharov et al., 2017) reasoned that if they could find examples of this type of rock that had formed near the equator, and could demonstrate that the water the rock encountered during formation came from glacial meltwater, then, they would have proven that at the time there were glaciers near the equator.  Continue reading

New Model Predicts How Debris-Covered Glaciers Will React to Climate Change

by Lindsay McCord

Glaciers are vulnerable to melting due to climate change, however debris-covered glaciers respond differently to changes in temperature due to insulation from the debris. A new model factors in this variable for debris-covered glaciers in order to predict how these glaciers will react to a changing climate. Focusing on the Khumbu Glacier in the Himalayas of Nepal, the model predicts a loss of 8-10% of total glacial mass by 2100 followed by increased losses as the tongue (frontmost part of the glacier where debris accumulates) separates from the rest of the glacier. This separation process exposes more surface area of the glacier which causes accelerated loss of mass. Continue reading

Are Glaciers More Than Just Ice in the Human Psyche?

by Jassmin Del Rio

There exist cultures in which glaciers and mountains are associated with deities and hold tremendous spiritual importance to the people that live near them. Climate change itself has cultural and spiritual ties that are, unfortunately, often overlooked by scientific communities. By holding scientific information regarding climate change above all else, spiritual data are left out and, often, not even thought about. Allison points out that there may be considerable value in looking at the climate change issue through humanistic lenses instead of just scientific ones. It is a moral and ethical issue as well as a scientific and economic one, especially for those most directly affected by the changes. Spiritual affiliation could prompt more people to actually take action and educate themselves on the climate change crisis, which would be helpful in alleviating it. Continue reading

Nepalese Sherpas Affected by Climate Change

by Jordan Aronowitz

Cut-off from the rest of the world, the Sherpas of Nepal spend their lives in the Himalayas. Overall climate change, mainly the average increase in global temperature, has negatively affected the Himalayas, but according to a recent paper (Sherpa, 2014), the Sherpas are ill informed about these changes, and can barely define “global warming.” NGOs have strived to inform this population about the imminent dangers of climate change, but cultural barriers, such as sexism and disdain for western culture, prevent success. The Sherpas are not causing climate change, but the NGOs want to inform them about possible dangers they may face in the future, saving lives, cultures, and livelihoods. Continue reading