Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What Global Warming Is Exposing

As glaciers recede, we see signs of how what used to be glacier-free is becoming so again demonstrating this is not unusual warmth.  From 1/13/14 Telegraph:
As much of the front was at altitudes of over 6,500ft, a new kind of war had to be developed. The Italians already had specialist mountain troops – the Alpini with their famous feathered caps – but the Austrians had to create the equivalent: the Kaiserschützen. They were supported by artillery and engineers who constructed an entire infrastructure of war at altitude, including trenches carved out of the ice and rudimentary cableways for transporting men and munitions to the peaks.

In the decades that followed the armistice, the world warmed up and the glaciers began to retreat, revealing the debris of the White War. The material that, beginning in the 1990s, began to flood out of the mountains was remarkably well preserved. It included a love letter, addressed to Maria and never sent, and an ode to a louse, ‘friend of my long days’, scribbled on a page of an Austrian soldier’s diary.

The bodies, when they came, were often mummified. The two soldiers interred last September were blond, blue-eyed Austrians aged 17 and 18 years old, who died on the Presena glacier and were buried by their comrades, top-to-toe, in a crevasse. Both had bulletholes in their skulls. One still had a spoon tucked into his puttees — common practice among soldiers who travelled from trench to trench and ate out of communal pots. When Franco Nicolis of the Archaeological Heritage Office in the provincial capital, Trento, saw them, he says, his first thought was for their mothers. ‘They feel contemporary. They come out of the ice just as they went in,’ he says. In all likelihood the soldiers’ mothers never discovered their sons’ fate. 

This article from 5/27/15 Smithsonian summarizes many of these:
 On the other side of the world, glaciers in the Argentinian Andes have relinquished their grip on a different set of bodies: Incan children sacrificed five hundred years ago, and a young pilot who crashed just a few decades ago.

"It took me a very long time to acknowledge he might be dead," the pilot's mother said, reported Stephen Messenger for Treehugger in 2011. "Now we have a body. I can visit my son at his burial site and grieve like any mother has a right to do."

A different plane carrying 52 passengers crashed into an Alaskan glacier in 1952. An Alaska National Guard helicopter crew found the wreckage in 2012.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/glaciers-retreat-they-give-mummies-and-artifacts-they-swallowed-180955399/#bVKKaQAPMMEpCISA.99
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Ditto, this article:
 The Schnidejoch pass is a route through the Alpine Mountains of Europe. The route—linking two Alpine valleys—has been used for centuries by travelers passing from Italy to the north. Scientists believe European ancestors have been traveling the Schnidejoch pass for 6,000 years. Because humans have used this pass for so long, they have left behind thousands of years of trash. This trash, thanks to the melting glaciers in and around the Schnidejoch, is now turning into priceless scientific artifacts from antiquity.

The objects that are recovered tend to cluster into distinct time periods. Scientists believe the objects correspond to time periods when the pass was open and people were using it. One such period produced artifacts associated with the Roman Empire, about 1,800 years ago. The discoveries include a belt used for a Roman tunic, Roman shoe nails, cloak pins, and coins. Scientists also believe the ruins located only a few miles from the Schnidejoch pass may be a Roman settlement or outpost. Taken together, these distinct time periods of artifact discoveries show how advancing and retreating glaciers would open and close the pass to travelers. Looking at the recovered coins, it is hard not to imagine a Roman soldier, far away from the warm Mediterranean climate of Italy, dropping the coin while traveling from Italy to England or Germany.

In 2006, an amazing discovery emerged from the Lendbreen ice patch in Norway. A wood worker and amateur archaeologist came across an amazingly well-preserved ancient leather shoe. When the shoe was examined and tested, archaeologists were stunned. The shoe was over 3,000 years old and dated from the time of Otzi the Iceman—the Bronze Age man found in 1991 in the mountains of northern Italy.

Leather objects are excellent markers for the age of a glacier. When the ice melts, leather objects are exposed to the elements and quickly disintegrate. Therefore, when scientists discover ancient leather objects, they know the ice could not have retreated prior to the age of the leather, making the glacier at least as old. The shoe was made of tanned leather and is about a size 7 (size 39 in Europe). It is one of the oldest shoes ever found in the world and the oldest shoe ever discovered in Norway.
The Lendbreen glacier near Lillehammer, Norway has produced many amazing discoveries of well-preserved archaeological artifacts. Previously, scientists had discovered well-preserved horse manure at high altitudes, where usually they would only find well-preserved reindeer poop. They had also found 1,000-year-old horseshoes. The scientists reasoned that where there is horse poop and horseshoes there must have been horses.

In August 2013, they finally found one of the horses (the first time scientists have discovered the remains of an ancient horse at such a high altitude). The horse was small, similar to those found in Iceland. The scientists theorize the horse broke its leg and was killed on the spot. Scientists now know that people from this time period were using horses for transportation. They theorize the reindeer hunters used horses to transport reindeer carcasses down from the mountains to the villages below. If you can read Norwegian, here is the link to the original article.
 and many other examples of receding glaciers exposing evidence that glaciers used to be smaller than now.

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