Retreating Italian Glacier Reveals Dead From World War I

Two soldiers’ bodies from World War I have been discovered on an Italian mountain, the Telegraph reports.

Workers on the Presena glacier in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of the Dolomites in Italy found the bodies at an altitude of 9,850 feet. The glacier has been receding because of an unusually hot summer and the workers were covering it with a giant tarpaulin to keep it from thawing further.

The soldiers are believed to have been from an artillery unit of the Austro-Hungarian army and were killed in 1918. The skeletons were identified by remnants of uniform and insignia. No word yet on whether they can be named.

During World War I, Italy fought against Austro-Hungarian and German forces in the bitter cold of the mountaintops. One favorite tactic was to fire artillery shells above enemy positions to cause avalanches to bury them. In other cases soldiers died from wounds or exposure and were lost. Many of these bodies have been found in later years.

From more on the Italian Front, there is an excellent website and photo collection here.

The Presena glacier isn’t the only one melting. The entire Alps is seeing less ice cover, reducing the number of ski slopes and increasing the risk of avalanches for trekkers.

[Photo courtesy German Federal Archive]

Video Of The Day: Kiribati Sinking

A Sinking Nation” from NPR on Vimeo.

Kiribati (pronounced kirr-i-bas) is an island nation spread across a chunk of the Pacific Ocean as big as Alaska two times over. But for all of the room Kiribati covers in distance, it accumulates virtually no space vertically. The average height of Kiribati land is just six and a half feet above sea level. Composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral, most of the nation’s 100,000 inhabitants cluster in near the nation’s capital, Tarawa. But space is running out. A single storm effortlessly vanishes houses into the sea and unfortunately, this is the fate most scientists and citizens believe belongs to Kiribati: the sea. According to this video produced by NPR, the island nation is especially vulnerable and in danger. Kiribati President Anote Tong has voiced concern over the rising seas, stating that it could ultimately lead to the demise of island countries like Kiribati. These statements have been loosely countered by findings published in the New Scientist magazine stating that the island is actually expanding due to coral debris. However hopeful land accumulation via coral debris may seem to some, the heart of the matter is that the core of Kiribati may soon be washed away and even newly risen land will likely face the same fate in this low-lying nation.

Only 3 Percent Of Greenland’s Ice Sheet Remains … Is It Time To Worry?

Update: Just to clarify, the ice sheet melting is the top layer of the ice block, not 97% of the ice in Greenland.

Drastic changes in the environment have been occurring for quite awhile, many attributing the cause to global warming. However, while these transformations usually occur over long periods of time, a recent rapid melting of Greenland‘s ice sheet has left only 3 percent, leaving scientists stunned.

From July 8 to July 12, NASA satellites recorded a 97 percent thaw of the ice. Melting was even seen at Summit Station, the country’s highest and coldest place. Usually, scientist’s would expect a change this drastic to occur over a 150-year period.

“This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to data error,” Son Nghiem, a researcher from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told Digital Trends.

Apparently, the melting was caused by a very warm steam of air that enveloped Greenland. While locals chatted about how sunny it was, the occurrence is actually part of a much larger – and scary – picture.

What are your thoughts on global warming?

[photo via Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason]

Karakoram Glaciers Defy Trends, Actually Grow In Size

Scientists are once again demonstrating that we actually don’t really have a clue about how our planet works. A team of researchers from the University of Grenoble in France has released a new report that indicates that glaciers in the Karakoram mountain range are actually growing in size. This is, of course, counter to what is being observed elsewhere across the planet and defies the theories behind global warming.

The scientists who conducted the study used satellite imagery collected from 1999 through 2008 to compare the land surface elevation over that period of time. Their observations indicate that the mass of the glaciers in the Karakoram continues to grow, even as others in the nearby Himalaya Mountains and around the world are actually in retreat.

Critics of the study are quick to point out that this method of research hasn’t proven to be reliable just yet. There are a number of factors that can interfere with the imagery including cloud cover and the amount of snow on the ground. They say that the only way to be sure that the glaciers are growing is to visit them in person and take measurements by hand. That isn’t easy in a place like the Karakoram, which is amongst the most remote and unexplored regions on the planet.

Located along the borders of China, India and Pakistan, the Karakoram runs about 310 miles in length and features some of the tallest mountains on the planet, including the infamous K2, which is second only to Everest in height. The high concentration of peaks in a relatively small area has made the mountain range nearly impassable at points and has hindered exploration over the years. That rugged terrain would make it very challenging to get an accurate measure of the glaciers there, which is necessary in order to verify the findings in this study.

[Photo credit: Guilhem Vellut via WikiMedia Common]

Video of the Day: Earth Hour 2012

The imagery is powerful: people from around the world, holding hands and candles in the dark, while iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Coliseum shut down their lights in recognition of Earth Hour 2012, one of the world’s largest voluntary actions for the environment. The evocative Sigur Rós soundtrack doesn’t hurt either.

Earth Hour calls upon individual citizens to switch off their lights for one hour to take a stand against climate change. Started in 2006 by WWF-Australia, the event quickly became a movement, spreading to hundreds of millions of people across 135 countries in just five years. Through an aggressive social media campaign, Earth Hour continues to send a strong message for environmental awareness, urging people to learn more about the global climate change crisis and take actions “beyond the hour” to lesson their impact.

This year’s Earth Hour is scheduled for Saturday, March 31, at 8:30 p.m. local time. If climate change is important to you, don’t miss the chance to join a movement for change.