Glaciologist visits University

A renowned glaciologist visited Murray State on Wednesday April 25, 2012, in the Freed Curd Auditorium of the Collins Industry and Technology Center.

Keith Mountain, professor in the department of geography and geosciences at the University of Louisville, got his start in 1974 when he ventured to work on a glacier in Greenland. Mountain said he has had a interest in glaciers, snow and ice from an early age.

His visit to Murray State was to ensure the community and the University was aware of how glaciers affected daily life.

“This is a worldwide issue,” he said. “I’ve seen the same situations happen in Peru as they do in Australia. Everyone needs to be aware of the option not only to speak for this issue but also to know about the kind of legacy we leave for future generations.”

Mountain’s research has taken him all over the world; he has participated and lead projects in the countries of Greenland, South America, and Tibet. Altogether, he has been a part of over 25 different international expeditions.

He said the glaciers he visited not only showed him the real truth that they hold but also reflect on the environmental changes as well.

“I do not like the phrase ‘global warming’,” Mountain said. “I prefer climate change. Global warming is simply another part of that.”

Mountain said he does not like to differentiate between weather and climate. He said the reason for this is either topic are studied at different scales and require different mathematical concepts to be determined.

According to Mountain, there are five basic forms of the proxy record, which is the means of recording environmental data before the age of actual record keeping- geological, botanical, soils, glaciological, marine and models.

Glaciological gives the scientists a more exact answer to their questions due to the “tree-ring” like feature.

“The way glaciers answer our questions about climate change and how the different weather system affected the world over time lie in the glacier itself,” he said. “The glacier rings, which typically accumulate 3 feet per year, show the dry seasons and the wet seasons of the region.”

Mountain said the secret to learning about how climate change is altered each year is embedded in the layers of snow. He said there is an enormous amount of information within these glaciers that can be used for good use.

The only problem with realizing this goal, Mountain said comes with realizing the rapid melting of the glaciers. He said the Southern Andes glaciers in Peru are retreating at a more accelerated rate every year. The north wall of the ice cap in Papua, Indonesia is also on this list as well.

Mountain said with the Arctic Pole also melting, a whole new different topic erupts, which could have a closer impact.

“With the Arctic Circle being rich in natural oil and other natural products, different countries are now debating which part belongs to whom,” he said. “The United States, for example, has two solo areas and has conjoined with Canada to share a piece between the two properties. Other nations, like Greenland and Russia, have already claimed their spots in the Arctic Circle.”

Mountain said he will be working in Alaska on the McCall Glacier, in which he will be reassuring the equipment set up to help read the glacier.

Rebecca Kilby, freshman from Murray, said with being a member of MESS and having a natural care for the environment, the lecture gave her a chance to discover new ways to help out even more.

Said Kilby: “It was a good chance to learn more about issues related to the environment and how to help out with the conservation of our world.”