Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Confirmed decrease of the world’s glacier mass balance

The evident Vernagtferner glacier melting, Tirol - Austria. Since the start of annual mass balance measurements in 1968, the ice loss cumulated to almost 12 metre w.e., with a thickness loss of about 0.5 metre w.e. during 2005.
New data published by the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) confirms the trend in accelerated ice loss during the past two and a half decades and brings the average thickness loss since 1980 of the 30 reference glaciers of 9 mountain ranges (Cascades, Svalbard, Andes, Alaska, Scandinavia, Alps, Altai, Caucasus and Tien Shan) at about 9.6 m (water equiv.). Tentative figures indicate a further thickness reduction of 0.7 m and 0.6 m during 2004 and 2005, respectively.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Surf's up!

Went to NW Peloponnisos today, with some surfing friends, the weather turned colder today all over Greece (finally!), and the waves were big and messy.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Spring came early...

Prunus amygdalus (the almond tree) in full bloom, in Athens...and I thought it was just in the Middle East that the tree breaks into sudden bloom in January...

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Athens - lack of imagination

I woke up this morning feeling incredibly high on life. Part of my usual Thursday morning routine is to grab the 2 free press issues of "Athens Voice" and "LiFo", to read on the train. They are usually quite a fun read, but today I was struck by the fact that they both had the same main article, on "Athens Design" - (talk about originality huh?!), and as if that wasn't enough I realized that all the ads placed in the metro trains are also identical, not to mention that they are McDonald's (uuughhh!). What a buzzkill...


Monday, January 22, 2007

The natural wonders of Attica

Trail map of Mt. Parnitha (source: Oreivatein)
Stalagmitic & stalactitic decor of the cave (photo: P. Matsouka)

This Saturday I went on an amazing hike with two friends at the southwest foot of Mt. Parnitha. We took the not-so beaten path (not the green one marked on map) and started off on the west side of the Kleiston Monastery, passed through forested areas, clearings, traversed west around Omali peak, made a small beautiful climb down the left side of Goura gorge and hit Giannoula's stream with it's gorgeous silver colored pools to climb up again and reach Panos Cave. This beautiful "alive" cave (770 m), was the site of worship of Pan, the ancient goat-legged god who protected mountains, forests, caves and the flocks. It amazes me every time how gorgeous Attica is, all these places just a few minutes away from the city center.
Useful mountaineering link: Oreivatein

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Halcyon days aka Global Warming?

The Kingfisher
It's 15 degrees here today and the sun is shining bright, and I am wondering whether this is normal or not?
Halcyon days have long been regarded as a rise in the temperature occuring towards the end of January in Greece. Universally, they are the two weeks around the Winter solstice.
However, the name was coined in ancient Greece and the association of the kingfisher with halcyon derives from a Greek myth about Alcyone, the god Aeolus' daughter. Alcyone married Ceyx, King of Thessaly, Ceyx died in stormy seas, and grief-stricken Alcyone threw herself into the ocean. But before hitting the water, she transforms into a bird, enfolding Ceyx's lifeless body with her wings. Feeling her deep grief, the gods changed the couple into kingfishers. Alcyone carries her love to his burial, builds a nest and launches it out to sea. There, she lays her eggs and hatches her chicks, brooding over her sea-borne nest for seven placid days before the Winter Solstice and seven calm days after. While she broods, Aeolus himself reins in the wind and sea, protecting his daughter and his grandchildren.
We were doing just fine all the while only the gods were able to manipulate the climate...

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Terje Haakonsen's first decent

Check out this incredible vertical snowboard drop on peak 7601


Monday, January 08, 2007

2007 wishes for ANWR and the bears

Finally the political momentum may be going the other way, at least ever since 2000 when Bush called for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) during his presidential campaign and the House of Representatives repeatedly passed bills in favour.
Legislation introduced in the House last Friday by the Democratic Party, would make the oil-rich 1.2 million-acre coastal strip of the ANWR a permanently protected wilderness and end repeated efforts to open the area east of the Prudhoe oil field (1002 Area on map) to energy companies.
The efforts on ANWR are coinciding with the Department of the Interior’s decision, on December 27 2006, to propose listing polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, in response to a suit filed in 2005 by three green groups.
Retreating ice in the Arctic and how it affects polar bears has been described as the “canary in the coal mine” in terms of climate change. It has already led to starvation, cannibalism, and drowning among the world's 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears (4,700 of which live in Alaska and spend part of the year in Canada and Russia). Check out the PBI’s pages for more on the research carried out
It looks like 2007 may actually turn out to be the International Polar Year.

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