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International Data Rescue News Volume 3, Issue 2 December 2006

Fighting Against Time The race to save rare glacial photographs It is a rare person who can look at a glacier and not feel awe, fascination and reverence. Huge and eerie from their inland nests, these mounds of ice have existed for millennia.

Constant Change While they make look sturdy, solid, and unchangeable, motion is what defines a glacier. They ebb, flow, surge and drift in response to the environment. By tracking glacier activity, scientists are learning exactly how climate change effects glaciers. By studying where glaciers have been, we can better gauge where the environment is going.

Study the Past, Predict the Future, Save Lives Historical glacier photographs provide a unique look into climate change. By comparing the size and position of a glacier in the past to its current measurements, scientists can quantify temperature change and better predict meteorological trends. Understanding climate change has far reaching benefits. The environment influences nearly every aspect of human life, from how well crops grow to how strong bridges must be built. Famine, natural disasters, epidemics -- all are results of the environment. As they shed light on climate processes and quantify weather functions, scientists may be saving lives.

Top: Field, William. 1947.

: From the . Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center/ World Data Center for Glaciology. Digital media. Bottom: Molnia, Bruce F. 2004.

: From the . Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center/ World Data Center for Glaciology. Digital media.

Continued on page 3

In This Issue

2 Devastating Glaciers

3 Fighting Against Time, cont.

4 IEDRO News

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Devastating Glaciers by Abdul Karim Khan Glaciers are large bodies of ice forming in excessively cold conditions when there is more annual snowfall than snowmelt and evaporation. Reaching thicknesses of about 100 meters, these masses of ice currently cover about 10% of the earth's land area. Glaciers were more widespread in the past. About 15000 years ago, nearly the whole of Canadian land was under glacial ice. Evidence of this is seen today in the absence of marine sedimentation across the rocky coastline of Atlantic Canada. Glaciers covered the mountains and the coast and hence ocean water has no circulation over these areas.

Glaciers and the Environment Glaciers are intimately tied to the global climate. As a general rule, the warmer the earth gets, the faster glaciers melt. Of the past 600 years, the 100 years of the 20th century were the warmest. In these, the world's average surface temperature rose nearly 0.6 degrees Celsius. The effect of this warming appears most prominently in portions of Montana's Glacier National Park and the eastern Himalayas, where glaciers and completely disappeared in the 20th century.

A ship nears Lamplugh Glacier, Glacier Bay. Photo by Commander John Bortniak, NOAA Corps, NOAA Corps Collection, September 1992.

This warming has caused excessive glacial retreat that has its threats for man. In its third assessment report, released in 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed the probability of alarming levels of warming.

glacier had dammed Lake Palcacocoha. Snowmelt caused the lake to drain, releasing floodwater which combined with glacial debris and formed a debris flow. It's volume exceded 8 million cubic meters and it destroyed at least 30% of Huaraz City, killing 6000 people.

A difference of less than 10 degrees in average global temperature can change the environmental scene from a chilling ice age to a flooded earth.

Growing Alarm

Glacial Retreat Rising sea level to flood the surrounding land is one of the most threatening consequences of glacial melting. Catastrophic floods, called Jokulhlaups, occur where glaciers: dam up lakes, contain internal water pockets, or occur in volcanic terrains. In 1941, a devastative Jokulhlaup struck the city of Huaraz in Peru. A

The recent appearance of a fissure in the glacier at Lake Palacocoha is a current concern. If the glacier breaks at the fault and falls into the lake, flood water will reach the city of Huaraz in roughly fifteen minutes.

Abdul Karim Khan is a research associate in geology at the National Center of Excellence in Geology, University of Peshawar, Pakistan. He is the author of the recently published book The Biting Age and writes articles, essays, and book reviews.

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Fighting Against Time Continued from page 2 Patagonian Glacier Photographs Approximately one thousand photographs taken in the late 19th and early 20th century in the Patagonian region of Chile are being stored at The Regional Museum in Maggiorino Borgatello, Puntas Arenas, Chile. These records are still on the original glass photographic slides, which can easily be damaged by mold, UV light, mishandling, oxidation and fluctuating relative humidity. Once these slides are gone, the data they hold may be irretrievably lost. IEDRO is in negotiations with the Regional Museum to digitally copy the glacier photographs, transfer the images to CD-ROM and provide copies to both the Museum and the NOAA Snow and Ice Center. Once the data is added to the archive of glacier photographs, it can be accessed by climate researchers around the world.

Photographer unknown. 1934. Wright Glacier: From the . Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology. Digital media.

The Need for Southern Glacial Records Nearly 70% of recorded historical glacier observations are from North America, the mountain zones of Europe, and the former Soviet Union. Being able to study glacier change in the Southern hemisphere would give scientists a better understanding of the spread and possible impact of global climate change.

How You Can Help You can make a difference. Through donations and volunteer work, IEDRO is helping rescue invaluable historical records for use by scientists throughout the world. Visit today to learn what you can do to help save glacial photographs and other environmental information, before it’s too late.

Photographer unknown. 1948. Wright Glacier: From the . Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology. Digital media.

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IEDRO News Climate Database Modernization Program (CDMP)

tions are digitized, they are saved on CD-ROM.

nas, Chile. Six CDs were received from Punta Brava, Uruguay.

The rescue and digitization of surface hydrometeorological observations in South America continues.

Once verified, the information is made freely available to the world scientific community through data centers such as the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, NC.

New Website

These 100,000 observations date as far back as 1886. These records contain standard surface parameters such as temperature and precipitation. Local contractors digitize records at rescue locations. As the observa-

In November, two CDs of rescued and digitized observations arrived from the Museo Maggiorino Borgatello in Puntas Are-

IEDRO volunteers are updating the organization’s website, Along with a new look, the revamped website will have information about how data rescue can help with disease and starvation prevention, hazardous weather prediction, and health and safety.

About IEDRO The mission of the International Environmental Data Rescue Organization is to assist the scientific and educational communities of mainly developing countries locate, rescue and digitize all environmental data currently at risk on perishable media, and to make those digitized data freely and openly available to the world scientific and educational communities before it is too late. IEDRO is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.

About IDRN

International Environmental Data Rescue Organization, Ltd. 901 Main Street, Deale, Maryland 20751 U.S.A. Phone: 410-867-1124, fax: 410-867-9259, email:, Board of Directors Chair: Janet F. Sansone Executive Director: Dr. Richard Crouthamel

The International Data Rescue News is published monthly by IEDRO. IDRN Editor: Janet Engle Email submissions to

December 2006  
December 2006  

Volume 3, Issue 2 December 2006 Bottom: Molnia , Bruce F. 2004. : From the . Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data...