Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Climate Change in the News of 1921: Blurbing William Cooper at Glacier Bay

Sept. 22nd, 1921

It's not often that glimmers of climate change appear in print a century ago.

Here's a note about the recession of Muir Glacier from September 22nd, 1921. Probably the 19th century change is not entirely anthropogenic from fossil fuels but it's striking nonetheless.

And it turns out that William Cooper was engaged in a fascinating project that was revived just a few years ago.

See in National Geographic, "Century-Long Glacier Study May Help Us Crack Climate Change" and an interactive with some of the original field notes in "The Lost Study of Glacier Bay."

Started in 1916 by one of the countries leading ecologists, the study ran for over 75 years - but then was lost, as the original researchers died. In 2016, the plots were rediscovered through a combination of old sketch maps, compasses, notes, faded photographs, and wilderness exploring. It's a story reminiscent of John Muir crossed with Indiana Jones, where X marked the spot and old buried spikes were pursued like a needle in a Glacier Bay sized haystack. The expedition was successful, and the longest running study is all set for the next 100 years of monitoring.

The project turned out more to be about plant succession than about glacial recession, but it's interesting it was mentioned in the paper in any case. (Also interesting is the National Geographic headline, which may have a bit of false bonhomie and suggests Climate is a problem to be solved and mastered.)

via Twitter

Yesterday we hit another way to mark our warming climate. We've already smashed the record for days of 90 degree or greater heat in a year. And yesterday afternoon we hit a milestone for days of 80 degree or greater heat in a year.

And big trees have been in the news.

LA Times, September 18th

Even though the human costs of climate-intensified fire loss are more direct, the costs and losses to our oldest and biggest creatures are especially moving.

NY Times, December 2020

LA Times, yesterday

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