“For a short time, we’re free to glide, carve, dip and soar. It’s pure play, harmony of man and nature …”
By Bob Berwyn
*Originally published in New West in 2007
I want to tell you about an old song by Austrian singer and songwriter Wofgang Ambros called Schifoan. Translated, the song title simply means skiing. But the lyrics to this three-minute ditty capture so much of the feeling of a good ski day that it became a sing-along anthem in this ski-crazy mountain country, not to mention a karaoke favorite.
In the first verse, Ambros describes the joy of strapping his boards to the car roof on a Friday afternoon, the giddy anticipation of seeing snow-covered mountains on the horizon, and his determination to catch first chair in the morning to ensure first tracks — but not before stopping at the mountain hut for a Jagatee (hot tea with rum). Continue reading “An old rock-n-roll anthem for a new ski season”→
Danube Pano from Aggstein Castle looking across at Willendorf.
Most travelers have heard of the Wachau region. The fertile hillsides along the Danube River have long been designated as a World Heritage region for its cultural and natural landscapes. But just across the river is another slice of forest, the Dunkelsteinerwald, that’s not quite as famous but just as beautiful. On a mid-October weekend, we hiked from the pilgrimage town of Maria Langegg up the restored Aggstein Castle, which was built in the 12th century. Like many others along the Danube, the castle was an outpost for charging toll to passing ships, a payment made in exchange for maintaining the paths along the shore that were used to tow ships upstream. But the area was inhabited long before that, with signs of civilization dating back to the Celtic era — and long before. Just across the river, construction workers in 1908 unearthed the famed Venus of Willendorf, a prehistoric fertility figurine dating back to about 25,000 BC.
In just two years following a man-made flood in the Colorado River Delta, cottonwoods and willows have grown 10 feet tall, rebuilding habitat for other native plants and animals, according to a new monitoring report on the international experiment to re-water the long-arched region.
Water shortages, sudden floods on the climate change menu in South America
Researchers already know that the world’s tropical glaciers are melting fast, but a new study published in The Cryosphere, an European Geosciences Union journal, helps pinpoint some of the potential impacts. The research focused on the Bolivian Andes, where glaciers dwindled by 43 percent in the last 30 years. The melting ice has created lakes that could burst and flood downstream towns, according to lead author Simon Cook a lecturer at the Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK.
The glacier meltdown also threatens regional water supplies. The 2.3 million residents of La Paz and El Alto get about 15 percent of their water supply from glaciers, and double that during the dry season. One lake in the region has already dried up, according to the authors, who said their study is one of the first to look specifically at recent large-scale glacier change in Bolivia. Continue reading “Melting Andes glaciers pose risk in Bolivia”→
Soil moisture, snowpack data help inform new forecast modeling
Some droughts creep up on you, while others seem to come out of nowhere, like in 2012 when spring came early and a hot, dry summer parched fields and forests and led to a busy wildfire season, including the destructive Waldo Canyon blaze near Colorado Springs.
Seasonal forecasts issued in May 2012 did not foresee a drought forming in the country’s midsection. But by the end of August, the drought had spread across the Midwest, parching Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri. Now, after analyzing conditions leading up to the drough, researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, say similar droughts in the future could be predicted by paying close attention to key indicators like snowmelt and soil moisture. Continue reading “Study eyes ‘flash drought’ forecasts”→
Global temperatures stayed near record-high levels in Autumn, with last month ending up as the second-warmest September on record, going back to 1880. For the month, the average sea- and land-surface temperature was 1.60 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, just 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than September 2015, according to the latest monthly State of the Climate report from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
Long-term studies show potential impacts of climate change
A new set of scientific reports highlights the value of long-term observations in relatively undisturbed ecosystems and also offers a preview of how global warming may change Antarctica in coming decades.
The research shows that a period of unusual warmth in 2001 and 2002, caused by a confluence two natural climate cycles, accelerated the microbial food chain and shook up the distribution of penguin populations and thinned glaciers according to October issue of the journal BioScience .
The research came out of two long-term ecological research stations, including Palmer Station, on the West Antarctic Peninsula, where scientists study how “changing sea ice extent influences marine ecology and the multilayered food webs of the coastal, nearshore, and continental slope ecosystems.” Other studies were done at the McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER, in an ice-free polar desert where glacial meltwater plays a huge role in ecosystems. Continue reading “How will Antarctica respond to global warming?”→