Thursday, 15 July 2010

Painting mountains white....

Plain daft, or a brilliant solution? You decide. I refer to an experiment in the Peruvian Andes, funded to the tune of £135,000 by the World Bank, to increase the albedo of a mountain by painting it with whitewash. The enormity of the task may be something akin to the Forth Bridge, but it is being accomplished with some speed. The paint, a mixture of lime, industrial egg white and water, is simply splashed onto the surface by boiler-suited workers and an impressive two hectares (68 more to go) have been completed in just two weeks. The principal is not new; Alaskans have tried painting road surfaces white to preserve permafrost, and roofs are being painted white in the U.S. to minimise the local impact of global warming. The aim of the project is to increase the cool micro-climate around the peak in order to 're-grow' the glacier that covered the 4756m mountain top many years ago. There is considerable sceptisim about the wisdom of the approach, but only time will tell if it will work, and if the idea might be valid elsewhere.

Image BBC

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Mapping the Arctic

A new geological map has been produced of the Arctic! It has been prepared by the Geological Survey of Canada (Natural Resources Canada) and is a joint effort incorporating data from the various geological surveys of Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia and the United States. By clicking on the link above, you can listen to a podcast (.mp3 13520 Kb) by Mark St. Onge - co-leader of the international compilation project led by Canada - who explains how so many nations worked together to produce it.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Icelandic eruption

Volcanic activity beneath Eyjafjallajoekull in south-central Iceland is continuing to cause concern in the media that a jokulhlaup may be triggered. However, it appears that either meltwater is not being generated, or it is not accumulating. The eruption site, a 1km long fissure, is situated in a relatively ice-free area and so the former explanation seems likely. Nevertheless, this is small comfort to the 600 or so people who have been evacuated from their homes as a precaution. A further concern is that activity at the nearby Katla volcano could be triggered, particularly since this has been the outcome on the previous three occasions that this volcano has been active. Further footage and reports from earlier in the week can be accessed at