Samstag, 31. Mai 2008

Glacier discharge

It has begun - the temperatures are rising, and so the observed discharge of the glacier in the Alps, like the Vernagtferner.

Dienstag, 27. Mai 2008

Glacier Change

Waxeggkees (Zillertaler Alps) ca. 1900-1906 and 2006

Sonntag, 25. Mai 2008

Fossil Ice wedge casts

Fossil Ice wedge casts on a wall of a gravel pit near the city of Weimar, Germany.

Cool Superhero

We got Ironman, Batman, Ratman - but a menace like climate change needs a real superhero -TUNNEL-MAN, the first superhero that dedicates his live to explain permafrost.

Will he triumph over evil supervillains, like the angry looking "Rock Glacier" and his sidekicks Frost and Snow ?

Samstag, 24. Mai 2008

Folds and faults

Inspired by the observations of The Lost Geologist, here some thoughts on ice and folds:
Folds and faults in geological formations can rappresent zones, where chemical and mechanical erosion can be more effectiv then in undisturbed rocks. So creeks and glaciers tend to erode stronger this structures, forming characteristic landscapes. The picture shows an active rockglacier in the Hohe-Gaisl-massiv, south tyrolean Dolomites, formed in that was remain of an (glacial) eroded hughe fold.

The tectonically "broken and shattered" lithology provides hughe amounts of detritus (by thaw-freeze cycles), that play an important role in phenomenon of masstransport of mountains, p.e. debris flows, or rockglaciers.
On the same just mentioned rockglacier, a hughe fold in the jurassic limestone provides detritus, that first accumulates on the debriscones on the basis of the rockwall, and then is incorporated in a creeping detrituslobus in front.

Panta rhei

Shear bands in the tongue of the "Gurglerferner", a glacier in the Ötztaler Alps (Italy-Austria), dipping from nearby flowparalell to vertical, to cross the surface of the glacier perpendicular. This feature demonstrates that in the movement of glaciers an important role plays even brittle deformation

Sonntag, 18. Mai 2008

Time is running away...

Is the polar bear an endangered species? After months, the U.S.A. government has decided to take the king of the arctic on the list for endangered, or in future possible endangered species. Destruction of habitat by exploration for ressources, climate change and shorter periods of icecover of the arctic sea have affected heavily the stimated population of 20.000 individuals worldwide, and after some experts the species in future possible face extinction.

Arne Naevra (Norway)
Polar meltdown

"I was relaxing after a long day filming just east of Barentsöya Island, in Svalbard. Our boat was far from the nearest pack-ice or land, but just before midnight, an iceberg came into view with a strange cargo: a young polar bear. It swam away from its thawing life-raft, but the picture shows clearly how climate change is affecting the Arctic.’ The polar bear is now officially endangered as the ice on which it hunts for food melts due to global warming. In 1996 the rate of loss was about 100 cubic kilometres per year. Ten years on, that loss has doubled. Pollution and the fact females only mate every two or three years add to the concerns."

Wildlife Photographer of 2007

Is Mars (geomorphological speaking) alive?

The planet Mars, a lifeless desert, frozen for eternity and geomorphological death since millions of years. But a new imagines of the "Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)" showed scientists of the Brown University of Rhode Island and the MIT in Boston a surprise, and changed how we see this planet.
Possible glacial deposits in Arabia Terra, Mars.

The space probes of the last years showed that Mars possess lots of water, frozen in the underground of high latitudines and trapped in the polar caps, but on the equator it was tought that no ice existed in the past millions years. But the new high resolution photos shows that was seems to be the remains of gigant glaciers in Arabia Terra. The reserach group believes to have discovered signs of trim-lines on the walls of the valleys on Mars,only 100 millions of years old - for the geological timeline of Mars just yesterday. The glacier after some calculations reached a thickness of 900m, and maybe the observed deposits contain even today some ice.

Possible trim-lines and glacial deposits?
The researches think that Mars passes in cyclic periods extended ice-ages, that maybe are triggered by the strong inclined rotation axis of the planet (25,19°), similar to Earth, but more stronger and with longer periodicity.

HAUBER; VAN GASSELT; CHAPMAN; NEUKUM (2008): Geomorphic evidence for former lobate debris aprons at low latitudes on Mars: Indicators of the Martian paleoclimate. Journal of Geophysical Research, VOL. 113, E02007
DAMBECK (2008): Geologen staunen über Spuren gigantischer Gletscher. Der Spiegel, 28.04.2008

Samstag, 17. Mai 2008

Project Phoenix

If all goes according to plan, on Sunday May 25th the Phoenix Lander will touch down on the surface of Mars. It isn't going to be easy. Unlike the last two Rover missions, that intentionally crashed and bounced onto the planet, this mission is supposed to have a soft landing. Because of that, selecting an appropriate landing site was a challenge, they had to find a place without too many rocks. Dr. Ray Arvidson, from the University of Washington in St. Louis, is the co-investigator for the mission, and he played a key role in identifying the right place for the lander to come down. Once on Mars, the lander will be digging into the soil, looking for evidence of water, and other molecules that might indicate whether Mars would have ever supported life. At the same time, a Canadian weather station will be looking up, to learn about the temperature and pressure on the surface of Mars in this Northern region. Dr. Peter Taylor, from York University is part of the team looking at Mars' weather. He's particularly interested in the dust and how it's moving in the atmosphere, since dust plays a key role in controlling heat flow through the air.

mp3 from the Canadian Broadcast

Update: The Phoenix has landed... (26.05.2008)

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Washington Univ. St. Louis/Univ. of Arizona
The planned landing site for Phoenix Mars Lander lies at a latitude on Mars equivalent to northern Alaska on Earth. It is within the region designated "D" on this global image.