Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Calving


A few years ago Mrs. T. and I  along with our good friends Gary & Rosie, were doing a "whale watching and glacier" tour out of Seward Alaska. It was a balmy 72 degrees that mid June day. The water, though, was extremely cold and when the cruise boat picked up speed and you went onto the outside deck it was downright cold.

We approached the face of the glacier carefully as big chunks of ice floated by us. Finally, we stopped and as I leaned on the railing, camera at the ready, I figured we were at least a safe several city blocks distance away.

I saw the ice chunk fall as I clicked my camera. Then there was an astonishingly loud "BOOM." People literaly jumped back. The captain then told us that the piece of ice was about the "size of a skyscraper," and we were a safe "half a mile away." It was some minutes before a wave splashed against the side of the boat.

How could I have been so mistaken, thinking we were much closer to the glacier than we actually were? The reason is simple. It was so huge.
The size and power of Mother Nature's forces seem much of the time as overwhelming. Think hurricanes like Katerina, the  flooding in the Red River Valley on the North Dakota - Minnesota border or the unbelievable amounts of snow burying the city of Boston this year.
And yet. And yet for thousands of years the activites of humankind have changed and in some cases overpowered Nature itself. Take, for example, the disasterous agricultural practices in the ancient Mediteranean world. Those practices enhanced a major climate change in the area. The result was that a fertile agricultural area became far less so. And the world's greatest desert drastically expanded north - the Sahara.
Much closer to home, Glacier National Park might soon need a new name.
The Montana park had 26 named glaciers ten years ago , down from 150 in 1850. Those that remain are typically mere remnants of their former frozen selves. Just one  of many, this one photographed in 1911 and 2005. 
 
Today gone.....



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