"OVER the next two weeks, hundreds of millions of people will watch Americans like Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin ski for gold on the downhill alpine course. Television crews will pan across epic vistas of the rugged Caucasus Mountains, draped with brilliant white ski slopes. What viewers might not see is the 16 million cubic feet of snow that was stored under insulated blankets last year to make sure those slopes remained white, or the hundreds of snow-making guns that have been running around the clock to keep them that way.
Officials canceled two Olympic test events last February in Sochi after several days of temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a lack of snowfall had left ski trails bare and brown in spots. That situation led the climatologist Daniel Scott, a professor of global change and tourism at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, to analyze potential venues for future Winter Games. His thought was that with a rise in the average global temperature of more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit possible by 2100, there might not be that many snowy regions left in which to hold the Games. He concluded that of the 19 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics, as few as 10 might be cold enough by midcentury to host them again. By 2100, that number shrinks to 6.
The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, and as a result, snow is melting. In the last 47 years, a million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere. Europe has lost half of its Alpine glacial ice since the 1850s, and if climate change is not reined in, two-thirds of European ski resorts will be likely to close by 2100.
The same could happen in the United States, where in the Northeast, more than half of the 103 ski resorts may no longer be viable in 30 years because of warmer winters. As far for the Western part of the country, it will lose an estimated 25 to 100 percent of its snowpack by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed — reducing the snowpack in Park City, Utah, to zero and relegating skiing to the top quarter of Ajax Mountain in Aspen. …
The ski season in parts of British Columbia is four to five weeks shorter than it was 50 years ago, and in eastern Canada, the season is predicted to drop to less than two months by midcentury. At Lake Tahoe, spring now arrives two and a half weeks earlier, and some computer models predict that the Pacific Northwest will receive 40 to 70 percent less snow by 2050. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise — they grew 41 percent between 1990 and 2008 — then snowfall, winter and skiing will no longer exist as we know them by the end of the century.”
The End of Snow? | NYT
"I’m hoping it will make people appreciate the value of glacier resources, as they go away."
From OPB’s gorgeous interactive — complete with videos & GIFs — of the largest known glacier cave system in the lower 48 located in our very own Mt. Hood, Thin Ice: Exploring Mt. Hood’s Glacier Caves. [ht/rjs]
“Smith Island is the last inhabited island in Maryland, a place where residents, hearty watermen who make their living catching oysters and blue crabs, still speak in the Cornish dialect of their ancestors. Many Smith Islanders can trace their ancestry back 12 generations to the English colonists who settled here in the 17th century. And yet their link to this land may soon be broken: Smith Island is eroding. Though scientists differ on how long it will be before the island is underwater, anywhere between 30 and 100 years, there is no dispute about the cause: rising seas. The global trend of rising ocean levels is especially acute in the Chesapeake Bay, where water is rising at twice the world average. To make matters worse, the land around the Chesapeake is sinking: a trend scientists call post-glacial subsidence. According to a state-commissioned task force, Maryland is now losing 260 acres of tidal shoreline annually.”
Olafur Eiasson's installation at MoMA, Your Waste of Time, consist of broken chunks of Iceland’s Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier. The museum had to turn one of their main galleries into a walk-in freezer to able to display them. “According to PS1, the pieces of ice chosen for the project are about 800 years old. That sounds about right to Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Scambos speculates that the ice came from the ‘Little Ice Age,’ the period between the 16th and 19th centuries during which glaciers grew larger than they ever have since—and advanced quickly.
'These glaciers bear testimony to our history-being suspended and frozen for thousands of years-and now they are melting away, as if our whole history is fading,' said Eliasson.”
“Prison turned out to be not nearly as bad as I expected… We have a vastly different justice system today than we had a generation ago, with an order of magnitude of more people in prison, and one of the things that people don’t stop and think about, is that one of the consequences of mass incarceration is that our prison are filled with really normal people. Mass incarceration did not happen because of some drastic shift in human nature. It happend because the private prison industry was able to change our laws that allows us to lock up a lot more normal people.”