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Glaciers in California


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Date/time: December 17th, 2019, 11:00 AM- 12:00 PM
Presenter: J. Daniel Taillant and Adam Riffle, Center for Human Rights and Environment

Did you know that there are invisible glaciers up in the Sierra Nevada? Did you know there is extensive permafrost terrain in California? Once climate change has destroyed the few surviving Sierra Nevada glaciers, rock glaciers and other permafrost features of the periglacial environment will continue to provide seasonal melt water to downstream ecosystems. Rock glaciers, which are similar in size and morphology to ice glaciers, contain internal ice (i.e. permafrost) that is covered by a thick, rocky outer debris layer that provides insolation which helps protect the ice from the warming effects of climate change. Few know, understand or consider the importance of permafrost features to water basin regulation. Our work to protect the world’s cryosphere through improved and informed policy, education and activism is part of what we dubbed “cryoactivism”, that is, activism geared to protect our frozen environment. From the day that we discovered a multinational mining company dynamiting glaciers in the Central Andes of South America, we set out on a quest to bring attention to the worlds glaciers and periglacial resources. In 2008 we helped get the world’s very first glacier and permafrost protection law passed in Argentina. California is extremely rich in rock glaciers, oftentimes confused with lateral moraines of remnant glaciers. Yet, there are hundreds of these very active rock glaciers (that have nothing to do with moraines) and thousands of smaller periglacial features that are rich in ice and that are providing continuous water to California’s streams and rivers. Find out more about these obscure but fascinating high mountain hydrological features by joining this webinar!