New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research [NIWA] has just carried out and published their annual aerial glacier survey, and for all sorts of reasons apart from their most experienced glaciologist taking part, and the pilot, a very experienced mountaineer, both being old friends and integral to it’s success, there is my own interest having traversed many glaciers over decades.
In fact looking back many that I tussled with, negotiating crevasses and ‘schrunds etc. have subsequently ceased to exist. A testament to warmer climes!
I took this photo at a similar time of year to the survey – it’s of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman, with the Hochstetter Icefall draining the Grand Plateau, taken from across the Tasman Glacier in Mt Cook National Park but back in about 1975.
Note the horizontal lines – evidence of lateral moraines, at the lower left and right. Well back in the 50s the Tasman Glacier [flowing right to left] was apparently at that level, and this was confirmed in a conversation I once had with the late Mick Bowie, a very famous mountain guide of this era.
Here is the press release and video of the survey, courtesy of NIWA’s web site [and well done Andy and Trevor]:
NIWA has carried out aerial surveys of over 50 of the South Island’s glaciers every year for more than four decades. The survey’s record the snowline on the glaciers at the end of each summer and provide a time line of glacier-climate interaction stretching back to 1977. Look at the results of the 2018 survey – carried out after New Zealand’s warmest summer on record.
Trevor and Barbara Chinn, friends of mine who live by Lake Hawea, may have become very mindful of water quality by the proximity of many thousands of dairy cattle at nearby Hawea Flat.
Trevor’s letter below should be read in the context of his lifetime’s work as an internationally acknowledged glaciologist…
The South Island has been blessed by massive supplies of gravel spread from the Southern Alps down to the coasts to form fertile valleys and plains holding pristine aquifers.
I have been concerned about the effects of the recent explosive spread of dairy irrigation in the catchments feeding these aquifers.Over the gravel plains of Canterbury, Mackenzie Country, Upper Clutha and Southland, with annual rainfalls of around 800mm
This is an excellent summation by photographer Colin Monteath of hedgehoghouse.com of what man-made accelerated climate change is doing to our largest mountains, glaciers and huts around the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.
Trevor and wife Barbara live nearby and it’s been a privilege to re-acquaint recently over a cup of tea, and share here some of Trevor’s knowledge…
Kathryn Ryan speaks to glaciologist Trevor Chinn on the rapid shrinkage of the country’s glaciers. Over four decades Dr Trevor Chinn has photographed all of the South Islands glaciers, of which there are more than 3,000 as part of a world glacier inventory project.The central Southern Alps has lost a quarter of its ice in recent decades and stands to lose another 50 to 60 percent. The issue has been discussed this week at the Sustainable Summits conference at Mt Cook.
Visitors are running out of time to see New Zealand’s dwindling southern glaciers, which are becoming a safety hazard.The central Southern Alps has lost a quarter of its ice in recent decades, and stands to lose another 50 to 60 per cent.It meant its spectacular glaciers were shrinking at an unprecedented rate, some having lost several kilometres of ice this century.It was a topic discussed at the Sustainable Summits conference at Mt Cook this week.