ENVT 200 03

Seminar: While Glaciers Slept

For this blog post, I attended the seminar by geographer and glaciologist M. Jackson who spoke about her book titled, “While Glaciers Slept: Being Human in a Time of Climate Change”. The seminar was in room 235 of the RSS building on February 26th. In Jackson’s presentation, she discussed the effects of climate change by using glaciers as an example. Observing the melting of glaciers is a good gauge when viewing the effects of climate change due to their high sensitivity to heat. Around the world, these massive ice structures are rapidly melting away at an exponential rate. Jackson spoke about her experiences studying glaciers in Iceland. During that time, she says, “glaciers and humans are interconnected through their culture and lifestyle”. The enormous glaciers found in the country are melting away at a rapid pace. This process is affecting the people that live there in profound ways. She first mentioned how the sediment falling into the ocean from melting glaciers is affecting the cultural fishing practices that so many Icelanders rely on. She also mentioned a process called Post-glacial rebound, which occurs when the massive weight of melting glaciers dissipates causing land to rise. This process is affecting small fishing towns by blocking access to ocean harbors.

These two processes were only a few of the negative impacts that the rapid melting of glaciers is placing just on Iceland. The different effects of glacial melting vary all around the world, and Jackson mentioned other studies currently being done in different countries as well. Seeing this process occur, further proves the pronounce effects that climate change has on our planet. Although glaciers are melting all over the world, Jackson mentioned that in order to look at the effects of climate change, we must first look at the small picture. The melting of glaciers show obvious proof of climate change, but this process is only occurring in a few places around the world.  There are other ways in which we can see the effects of global warming in our local communities.

A common misconception is that climate change has the same effects on environments all over the world. For example, when an area has a cold winter during one year, people in that area tend to deny that climate change is occurring.  However, the effects of climate change are distinct around the world. Depending on aspects like geographical location, weather patterns, and land factors, these effects can vary quite differently. Jacksons seminar explained how in many coastal areas there is a high risk of sea level rise covering the land in ocean water, but in a place like Iceland, post glacial rebound is causing land to rise instead. People who deny climate change tend to ignore the small changes that are going on around them, but for every change that is occurring on our planet, there is a reason. Small changes like a slight rise in sea level or land elevation represent ways in which we can truly look at the effects of climate change in different areas. By informing people to notice these differences, we can help spread the word that climate change is occurring at a rapid rate and must be stopped.

3 thoughts on “Seminar: While Glaciers Slept

  1. mattisonmm

    This paper stuck out to me because it talked about the melting glaciers effecting fisheries in the area. In my assignment I also talked about fishes possibly becoming extinct in 2050 due to over harvesting, but I didn’t realize that the effects of glaciers also contributed to this.

    Along with this, I also related to the statement about climate change. It seems that overtime there is a cold winter we ignore global warming. I feel like every winter the news always claims “coldest winter since 1979” or something like that and it encourages people to ignore the impacts we have on global warming. Something big and drastic like a winter storm makes us ignore the little things that are happening within our environment.

  2. schultzjt

    Great job of summarizing the common misconception that climate change has the same effects everywhere. I think that is one of the main problems with our society’s view on climate change, since some people point to their local climate as evidence that climate change isn’t happening.

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