ACSP Peru 2014 Expedition

PI: Dr. Carl Schmitt, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Co-Is and Collaborators: Dr. John All, Western Kentucky University, Dr. Aaron Celestian, Western Kentucky University, W. Pat Arnott, University of Nevada, Dr. Joshua Schwarz, National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Dr. Rebecca Cole, University of Hawaii.

Glaciers in the tropical Andes have been rapidly losing mass since the 1950s.  In addition to the documented regional increase in temperature, increases in light absorbing particles on glaciers could be contributing to the observed glacier loss.  For the past three years the American Climber Science Program (ACSP) has been sampling snow in the Cordillera Blanca Mountains in Peru in an effort to quantify the glacial contamination levels.  The ACSP is a citizen science program which can leverage large volunteer groups to collect more samples.  The ACSP uses a filter based technique to sample particles in snow.  Results of the filter technique have been shown to be reasonably well correlated with mass estimates of refractory black carbon measured by the Soot Photometer-2 (SP2) instrument. 

The three years of data showed significant trends in the contaminants on glaciers in the Cordillera Blanca mountains.  Glaciers which are close to human population centers have substantially higher levels of contaminants than more remote glaciers suggesting that glaciers near population centers could be experiencing higher melting rates than remote glaciers. 

In 2014, the ACSP will be conducting another Peru expedition to the Cordillera Blanca.  The emphasis of the 2014 expedition will be to determine the extent of the glacier contamination by sampling snow and ice on some glaciers that ACSP expeditions have not previously visited.  Further samples will be collected from the walls of a crevasse to assess the seasonality of pollutants as well as the time evolution. We will collect bccovermultiple samples for filter and SP2 analysis in order to further develop the relationship between our filtering technique and refractory Black Carbon concentrations.

ACSP climbers and scientists plan to sample glaciers in other regions of South America in the 2014.  Details of locations have not been confirmed at this time. 

Carl Schmitt and his ACSP colleagues have published a featured article "Linking Remote and In-Situ Detection of Black Carbon on Tropical Glaciers" in  Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing. 
Here is the link to the article: