CASCADIA ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY RETREAT

Glacier Lab members Hayley Brazier, Holly Moulton, and Mark Carey recently attended the 2017 Cascadia Environmental History Retreat at Friday Harbor, Washington. Also attending from UO were Marsha Weisiger (co-organizer), Ryan Jones, Nichelle Frank, and Olivia Wing.  The retreat attracts graduate students and faculty from Pacific Northwest universities from British Columbia to Washington and Oregon. Activities focus on scholarship, professional development, and community building, as explained by lab member Hayley Brazier in her 2016 article “Practicing in Place: The Environmental History Retreat.”

The Univ of Oregon group attending the Cascadia Environmental History Retreat, Lime Kiln State Park, Washington, 2017.

RESEARCH AND TRAINING ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND SOCIETY IN THE ANDES

Lake Palcacocha, Sept. 2017. Photo by Holly Moulton.

This summer, Holly Moulton traveled to Peru for seven weeks to participate in research and training related to glacier melt, hydrologic variability and social aspects of climate change in the Peruvian Andes. Her first stop was the “International Social Science Forum: Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Climate Change, Disasters and Governance,” in Cusco, Peru. The conference was comprised of a multi-disciplinary and transnational group of professionals, academics, and members of civil society, who presented on issues related to climate change in high-mountain systems. Following the Social Science Forum, Holly traveled to Pisac to participate in the Winter School, a one-week training program sponsored by Proyecto Glaciares+ and the University of Zurich. The course provided background knowledge in integrated management of montane hydrologic resources to a team of diverse professionals. Following these experiences, Holly traveled to Huaraz, Peru to conduct research on social responses to climate change adaptations in the region, specifically related to flood hazards and water management at three glacial lakes. The work builds on more than 15 years of Cordillera Blanca glacier-society research conducted by Mark Carey and the Glacier Lab. This most recent work was conducted in collaboration with Mark and funded by a grant called Aguafuturo from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Aguafuturo seeks to create an integrated social and technical risk management framework for climate change related hydrologic variability and adaptation measures in the high Andes.

These various experiences and research show definitively that trans-disciplinary approaches to climate change adaptation in the Peruvian Andes provide both challenges and opportunities for future research. Climate change adaptation is a complex and multi-faceted process that is affected by social, political and natural variables alike. Above all, integrated management of hydrologic resources is critical.  Reducing flood risks, for example, may be insufficient as the only goal of a public works project at a glacial lake, given the projected future scarcity of water in the Cordillera Blanca and the need to anticipate related challenges. In this way, it is necessary to understand both the social and technical aspects of and barriers to climate change adaptation and water resource shifts, both in the short and long term. The Glacier Lab researchers and the Aguafuturo team at the University of Zurich believe that their research in the Cordillera Blanca can also be useful for understanding challenges and opportunities for climate change adaptation in other glaciated mountain regions across the globe.

MOUNTAINEERING, CITIZEN SCIENCE, AND GLACIERS

Our new article analyzing the history of glaciology and glacier research in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca suggests that citizen science conducted by mountain climbers, guides, and porters could augment the professional research about glaciers conducted by scientists. The article profiles, for example, the work of University of Innsbruck geographer and glaciologist Hans Kinzl from the 1930s to the 1960s to demonstrate that his time spent climbing Andean mountains and interacting with alpine residents and local communities facilitated his research agenda.  Spending time in the mountains, on glaciers, and with local residents remains helpful for effective glacier research.  In this way, mountaineers’ observations and data collection, such as information about rapidly changing glacial lakes, glacier stability, and mountain conditions, may offer useful information useful information for scientists and climate adaptation projects.  Several new programs—from Adventure Scientists and the American Climber Science Program to Girls on Ice, the Office de Haute Montagne, and Alp-Risk—offer just some of the examples of these kinds of innovations in citizen science related to high mountains, climate change, and glaciers around the world.  Our article concludes by suggesting that the ideal end result of citizen science by the larger mountaineering community that includes guides and porters would be increased knowledge generation and sharing, expanded public awareness, reduced risk of glacier-related disasters, and improved environmental management to help a broad range of stakeholders.

NEW ARTICLE ON GLACIER RUNOFF AND MOUNTAIN SOCIETIES

Members of the Glacier Lab, along with several other colleagues, have published a new global analysis of the societal dimensions of glacier runoff.  Published as part of a 2017 special issue of the Annals of the American Association of Geographers (vol. 107, no. 2), the article provides one of the first global and comparative assessments of water dynamics in glacier-fed watersheds.  There is a large gap in research to date because so few social science and humanities (or human-focused studies) have been conducted.  Our team found that, within the limited research that does exist, studies focus primarily in four areas: social impacts, hydropower, agriculture and food security, and cultural effects.

Importantly, we found that several “next steps” could enhance existing literature.  In particular, future research could more clearly and explicitly attribute changing water use practices to glacier runoff variation. In essence, it is not enough to say simply that glaciers are shrinking and thus water conflicts will arise because water allocation and usage depends on a host of variables — from power and politics to economics, water rights laws, crop preferences and markets, cultural values, available infrastructure and technologies, social inequalities, and environmental forces.  Glacier change is thus but only one factor affecting water distribution, and not everyone will be affected equally from glacier runoff variability.  The literature to date, however, focuses almost exclusively on the role of climate change and glacier loss when making bold, sometimes exaggerated, claims about the effects of glacier retreat on downstream societies.  In the end, one goal of the paper is to help “redefine and reorient the glacier-water problem around human societies rather than simply around ice and climate.”

The author team consists of Glacier Lab members Mark Carey, Olivia Molden, and M Jackson, as well as anthropologist Mattias Rasmussen (University of Copenhagen), hydrologist/glaciologist Anne Nolin (Oregon State University), and climatologist/geoscientist Bryan Mark (Ohio State University).

Alaska Field Report

By Andrea Willingham

One of my favorite things about being a part of the Glacier Lab is getting to contribute to the wildly diverse research conducted among its members.  This summer, I put my own research into practice and ventured to southeast Alaska to execute my field work for my Master’s project on Local and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (LEK/TEK) and science related to climate change. It was my first time conducting social science field work, and inevitably turned out to be an incredible learning experience in every way.  Continue reading

NEW GLACIER LAB RESEARCH ASSISTANTS HIRED FOR SUMMER 2016

Several Clark Honors College undergraduate students have been hired as research assistants in the Glacier Lab for summer 2016.  They are working on various glacier-related projects, including:

    • Indigenous peoples and climate change in the Andes; glacier protection and conservation in South America (Josie Kinney)
    • Glacier hazards; ice cores and humanities; virtual water in glacier-fed watersheds (Rebecca Marshall)
    • Climate and health (Candace Joyner)
    • Web design and research dissemination for the Glaciers and Society website (Chris Ableidinger)
    • Glaciers, national parks, and conservation (Doug Sam)
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Undergraduate research assistants in the field, Cordillera Blanca, Peru

Glacier Lab member Hayley Brazier is also conducting research on icebergs and marine environmental history

THE TROUBLE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATIONAL PARKS

Mark Carey has published a chapter in the new book, National Parks beyond the Nation: Global Perspectives on “America’s Best Idea”, edited by Adrian Howkins, Jared Orsi, and Mark Fiege (Oklahoma, 2016). Carey’s chapter compares climate change rhetoric, discours

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e, and perspectives in Glacier National Park (USA) and Huascaran National Park (Peru). He argues that the climate discourse exposes and builds on longstanding perceptions of national parks, which are different in both regions. The chapter brings a critical perspective to other studies that focus primarily on documenting climate change impacts in parks. Instead Carey asks why people want to be saving those parks in the first place, how the efforts diverge or perpetuate trends from the past, and what exactly they are trying to save (or not).

Overall, the edited collection featuring the work of prominent scholars working around the world is an excellent contribution to scholarship on national parks globally.

 

Feminist glaciology study published

Glacier Lab members Mark Carey, M Jackson, Alessandro Antonello, and former Lab member Jaclyn Rushing recently published a study on “Glaciers, Gender, and Science” in the peer-reviewed journal Progress in Human Geography. The journal Science recently profiled this article in an interview with Carey.

The concept of “feminist glaciology” is new to many people. It addresses the fact that, while women are more likely to be harmed or negatively affected by glacial melt than men, women’s voices are also less often heard in the context of glacier knowledge.  Furthermore, the study shows that glaciology has been imbued historically (and up to the present) not only with many more men than women, but also with masculinist cultures of exploration, geopolitics, and domination.  Credibility when it comes to glacier knowledge today is often still based on these masculinist undertones.

The article provides an overview of these issues, calling for a new approach to global environmental change research– a framework that considers gender dynamics in environmental (climate, glaciology, hydrology) knowledge as well as one that integrates the social sciences and humanities with natural sciences. The production of a more comprehensive knowledge base is critical to addressing changing environmental conditions worldwide, with the goal of more just and equitable adaptation to global change.