Project

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Glacier variations in southern South America: extension of the historical glacier record and connection to climate variability

Applicant Nussbaumer Samuel
Number 139400
Funding scheme Fellowships for prospective researchers
Research institution Department of Geography University of Western Ontario
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Start/End 01.01.2012 - 31.12.2013
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All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Geomorphology
Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy
Geochronology

Keywords (8)

glacier reconstructions; glacier dynamics; historical data; dendrogeomorphology; southern South America; Little Ice Age (LIA); palaeoclimatology; perception

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
The project "Glacier variations southern South America: extension of the historical glacier record and connection to climate variability" had two main objectives:(1) To reconstruct the evolution of selected glaciers in southern South America over the last centuries and to produce new, highly resolved glacier length records, and(2) to analyse the glacier evolution and relate the observed glacier changes to climate dynamics, considering regional patterns of glacier change.
Lay summary
The evaluation of historical information can give valuable insight into past glacier dynamics, especially before the onset of modern measurements. Within this project, written documents and pictorial historical records (drawings, sketches, engravings, photographs, chronicles, topographic maps) have been analysed critically, with a special focus on two regions: Lago Viedma (southern Patagonia, 49.5°S, 73.0°W) and the Río Mendoza basin (central Andes, 33.1°S, 69.9°W), in particular the Plomo valley which is exceptionally well documented due to the pioneering studies by R. Helbling and F. Reichert in 1909–1914.

At the decadal level, there is considerable variability in both the relative extent and timing of events and the dating of the Little Ice Age (LIA) maximum positions in southern South America. The available record is far from what is available for the Northern Hemisphere. According to historical evidence and dendro-geomorphological analyses, the LIA maximum occurred in southern South America between the 16th and 18th century. In the central Andes, high snow accumulation is generally associated with warm phases of ENSO, which might explain the positive mass balances recorded, e.g. in the second half of the 20th century.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 12.02.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
Reconstructing the annual mass balance of the Echaurren Norte glacier (Central Andes, 33.5° S) using local and regional hydroclimatic data
Masiokas Mariano H., Christie Duncan A., Le Quesne Carlos, Pitte Pierre, Ruiz Lucas, Villalba Ricardo, Luckman Brian H., Berthier Etienne, Nussbaumer Samuel U., González-Reyes Álvaro, McPhee James, Barcaza Gonzalo (2016), Reconstructing the annual mass balance of the Echaurren Norte glacier (Central Andes, 33.5° S) using local and regional hydroclimatic data, in The Cryosphere, 10(2), 927-940.
L'histoire des glaciers dans les Alpes et en Scandinavie vue par l'iconographie ancienne
Zumbühl Heinz J., Nussbaumer Samuel U. (2012), L'histoire des glaciers dans les Alpes et en Scandinavie vue par l'iconographie ancienne, in Berchtold Jacques (ed.), 247-267.
Mer de Glace. Art & science
Nussbaumer Samuel U. (ed.) (2012), Mer de Glace. Art & science.
Sous l'œil des hommes. L'histoire de la Mer de Glace depuis 1570 reconstituée à l'aide de l'iconographie et des écrits historiques
Nussbaumer Samuel U., Zumbühl Heinz J. (2012), Sous l'œil des hommes. L'histoire de la Mer de Glace depuis 1570 reconstituée à l'aide de l'iconographie et des écrits historiques, in Nussbaumer Samuel U. (ed.), 80-159.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
IANIGLA, CONICET Mendoza Argentina (South America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
University of Western Ontario Canada (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
AGU Fall Meeting Poster Historical glacier variations in southern South America since the Little Ice Age: examples from Lago Viedma (southern Patagonia) and Mendoza (central Andes), Argentina 09.12.2013 San Francisco, CA, United States of America Nussbaumer Samuel;
Seminario IADIZA-IANIGLA Individual talk Cuando la ciencia se une al arte: reconstrucción de fluctuaciones de los glaciares utilizando documentos históricos 19.06.2013 Mendoza, Argentina Nussbaumer Samuel;
IAI CRN 2047B Science Meeting Talk given at a conference Historical glacier variations in southern South America since the Little Ice Age: examples from Lago Viedma (southern Patagonia) and Mendoza (central Andes) 21.04.2013 Uspallata, Argentina Nussbaumer Samuel;
Conférence à la Bibliothèque nationale de France Individual talk L'histoire des glaciers par l'iconographie ancienne; exemples d'Europe et d'Amérique du Sud 27.11.2012 Paris, France Nussbaumer Samuel;
10th Swiss Geoscience Meeting Poster Historical glacier variations in southern South America since the Little Ice Age: examples from Lago Viedma (southern Patagonia) and Mendoza (central Andes) 16.11.2012 Bern, Switzerland Nussbaumer Samuel;
Seminar at the University of Western Ontario Individual talk Reconstructing past glacier fluctuations using historical documents: examples from Europe (Alps, Norway) and South America 22.06.2012 London, ON, Canada Nussbaumer Samuel;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Gletscherschwankungen im Plomotal Talk 14.12.2013 Bern, Switzerland Nussbaumer Samuel;
Inventario de glaciares e investigaciones glaciológicas en las subcuencas de los Ríos de las Vueltas y Túnel, cuenca del Río Santa Cruz Talk 02.04.2013 El Chaltén, Argentina Nussbaumer Samuel;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions arteBA International 2014
Talks/events/exhibitions Gletscherschwankungen im Plomotal German-speaking Switzerland 2014
Media relations: print media, online media Das Eis gibt seine Schätze preis Blick am Abend German-speaking Switzerland 2013
Talks/events/exhibitions Inventario de glaciares e investigaciones glaciológicas en las subcuencas de los Ríos de las Vueltas International 2013
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Vanishing ice: Alpine and polar landscapes in art, 1775–2012 International 2013
Media relations: print media, online media Zurück in die Zukunft 20 Minuten German-speaking Switzerland 2013
Media relations: print media, online media Art meets geology – Scientists paint a glacial picture" swissinfo.ch International 2012
Media relations: print media, online media Auf den Gletschern Südamerikas Horizone (SNSF magazine) German-speaking Switzerland International Western Switzerland 2012
Media relations: print media, online media Leichen, Munition, Flugzeugwracks – Was die Gletscher alles freigeben Blick German-speaking Switzerland 2012
Media relations: print media, online media Nachgefragt: Gletscherschmelze Deutsche Welle International 2012

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
154802 Detection of human and natural influences on the climate system: regional insights from the past Millennium 01.05.2015 Ambizione

Abstract

Glaciers are considered among the most sensitive indicators of climate change. One of the most visually compelling examples of recent climate change is the retreat of glaciers in mountain regions. Glaciers have also proven to be an important indicator for studying past decadal to century-scale climate variability. Knowledge about the past evolution of glacier fluctuations (over the last millennium and the Holocene) is sparse in South America despite the particular importance of this area. South America spans a range of climates that are influenced by multiple drivers such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, Antarctic climate or the high Andes. Further, better knowledge of glacier and climate dynamics in South America is important for future research activities in that area and on a global perspective.This interdisciplinary project will provide new evidence to the South American glacier history and will significantly contribute to the PAGES (Past Global Changes) 2k Network on the reconstruction of climate variability of the last two millennia. New, detailed and highly resolved glacier records, based on as yet unevaluated historical material, complemented with dendrogeomorphic studies will be produced for selected study sites in southern South America. Observed glacier changes will be analysed and interpreted regarding climate dynamics. These observations can be compared with recently developed, high-resolution multi-proxy temperature and precipitation reconstructions. This will allow an assessment of the spatial pattern of glacier changes in southern South America, differentiating local effects from regional or larger-scale climate dynamics.The glacier length records will be stored according to international standards in the existing database of the Global Terrestrial Network for Glaciers (GTN-G) as part of the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS). Glaciers are excellent indicators for the public perception of climate change in mountainous areas, and information about ongoing glacier changes and related consequences will be provided.For the applicant, the proposed project offers a unique opportunity to work in an internationally renowned centre of competence regarding South American climate and glacier dynamics, to build on earlier work, to further develop skills in glacier reconstructions, and to form a foundation for successful future, and possibly collaborative, projects in the field.
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