Will Stauffer Norris and his team are ASC Adventurers who are traveling the Colorado River observing water quality and climate change. They recently made it to Lake Powell and traveled the length on a solar powered raft. This post was retrieved from http://www.downthecolorado.org/lake-powell-doing-things-differently/
We decided to do things on Powell a little differently than the average visitor. Thanks to the innovative folks at Jack’s Plastic Welding, we got that chance. The Jack’s Plastic 22 foot long solar powered raft took us 160 miles in 6 days from Hite, Utah, to Glen Canyon Dam without a single drop of fuel.
First, a bit of background. Glen Canyon Dam was proposed in the 1950′s and completed in 1966. Powell briefly reached full pool in 1980 and has steadily declined ever since. The reservoir drowned Glen Canyon, one of the Colorado’s most celebrated canyons in the eyes of early explorers. John Wesley Powell remarked upon the canyon saying, “we have a curious ensemble of wonderful features – carved walls, royal arches, glens, alcove gulches, mounds, and monuments. From which of these features shall we select a name? We decide to call it Glen Canyon.” Beyond the tragic environmental consequences of the Dam, its societal purpose remains unclear. Is there any reason for the dam? The surrounding area, virtually devoid of population, does not require a reservoir of this size for drinking water purposes. The dam is simply a delivery system. The 1922 Colorado River Compact arbitrarily placed the boundary between upper and lower basin states at Lees Ferry, 15 miles downstream from Glen Canyon Dam. The upper basin states, therefore, simply built the dam in order to store water for delivery to the lower basin. What if the boundary was 300 odd miles downstream? In that case, Lake Mead (which remains at 50% capacity) could easily fulfill this same purpose without drowning Glen Canyon. As it is, the only true affect of Lake Powell is to provide added surface area for evaporation. An average of 860,000 acre feet of water evaporate from the reservoir each year, accounting for 6-8% of the Colorado River’s flow.
We began our solar powered journey at the Hite Marina in Utah. The Marina is essentially a ghost town. Years of drought have left the original boat ramp hundreds of feet away from the water and only small boats can now launch at the small, muddy ramp that remains. Beginning early in the morning, we rigged up the solar raft and got under way. As we made our way downstream, we saw several of the first tell tale signs that the environment was changing. The river’s silt quickly disappeared. By the first evening we were cruising through unnaturally clear blue waters. Just as striking, we quickly took notice of the “bath tub ring.” The lake is 60 feet lower than its maximum and is marked by a ring of white stained rock on the once orange walls, showing how high the waters used to reach. Despite the awe inspiring beauty around us, these marks of degradation reminded us constantly that something is terribly wrong.
Get a Bird's Eye View of the Amazon with ASC Adventurer West Hanson as he paddles the river from Source to Sea
West Hanson is a National Geographic Expeditions Council Grant winner and is paddling the Amazon from Source to sea while collecting data with ASC's Pacific Biodiversity Project. Check out these videos from life on one of the wildest rivers in the world.
The first video is a member of the white water team have fun through some small rapids. The video below shows what it's like to navigate in low water.
Dr. Loren Bahls is the curator of the Montana Diatom Collection, an important bank of 14,000 slides that represent 5,000 localities in the Northwestern United States. This collection is about to get much bigger. Over the past few months Dr. Bahls has teamed up with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation and their army of citizens scientists to collect a record number of samples from alpine lakes throughout the North West. Dr. Bahls has just begun to sort through all the samples with some pretty exciting results. Here are a few excerpts some of the first few emails to our scientist. Stay tuned for more! Check out the Diatom Project here.
I have processed your first 10 samples and they are already proving to be useful. In the "frog pond" above Dewey Lake I found Cymbella rainierensis, a diatom endemic to the Pacific Northwest. This species was described in 1963 from a population in Mowich Lake in Mount Rainier National Park. In the frog pond I also found the first U.S. record for Cymbopleura sublanceolata. These are both rare and little known species. I will be using your specimens and your photo of the frog pond when I post these species to the Diatoms of the United States website. You will be credited with the photo and your affiliation will be given as Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. I expect there will be more exciting finds when I examine your samples more thoroughly this winter.
Here's a brief update on your samples from the Wind Rivers: I assigned sample numbers and entered metadata into my database. Then I acidified the samples to remove organic matter, mounted the cleaned diatoms on slides, and deposited the slides in the Herbarium. All of your samples contained good numbers of diatoms, even the "Barren Tarn". In scanning the slides, I found the diatoms in "High Lake" to be very interesting. I'm attaching photos of some of these below. This sample contains 3 species (Navicula ludloviana, Navicula sovereignii, and Gomphoneis linearis) that are extremely rare and endemic to the Pacific Northwest, mainly Oregon and Washington. Your specimens are the first records from the Rocky Mountains. The condition of diatoms in the sample (several broken valves) suggests that you may have sampled a fossil deposit (diatomite). I will need to research the geology of the Wind Rivers to see if there are known diatomite deposits there.
I'll give your samples a more thorough analysis this winter. Thanks again for your contributions.
Here's a brief update on your samples from the Cascades: I assigned sample numbers and entered metadata into my database. Then I acidified the samples to remove organic matter, mounted the cleaned diatoms on slides, and deposited the slides in the Herbarium. All of your samples contained good numbers of diatoms.
I'm attaching photos of some diatoms from your Surprise Lake #1 sample. All of the scale bars are 10 microns. Your samples contain some interesting and potentially new-to-science species. At least one of the diatoms from Surprise Lake--Cymbella rainierensis--is endemic to the Pacific Northwest. As you might guess from its name, it was described from a collection taken near Mount Rainier, actually Mowich Lake in Mount Rainier National Park (in 1963).
I kept your two Surprise Lake samples separate because they were collected at different locations on the lake. In scanning the slides, I noticed that they contain quite different diatom associations. Do you recall if you sampled different substrates at Surprise Lake #1 and #2?
I will give your samples a thorough analysis this winter. Thanks again for your contributions.
By West Hanson, ASC and National Geographic Adventurer
September 11, 2012
Well, you never really know when good fortune will fall in your lap, that’s for sure. Jeff, John and I headed out of town after loading up on junk food and regular groceries to last us the next few days as we tackle a particularly low water section of river. It’s about 90 km long with just a small flow of water below a dam. A good chunk of the river is being diverted, during this dry season, to power a hydroelectric plant over the mountains, which means only a small amount of the river is allowed to flow freely through the dam. Subscribing to the “raindrop principle” of river flow, there is plenty of water to constitute a flowing river, however most of this section will require me portaging the boat over shallow, rocky sections that aren’t deep enough to paddle during this dry season.
Now to the good part: We arrived at the dam and began to talk to the guards and administrator about our plan. Erich Schlegel, our photographer from National Geographic and unofficial translator and generally great PR guy, had to stay back in town to do technical photo stuff via a solid internet connection. This left us with rudimentary Spanish and hand drawn pictures and photos to explain to the dam personnel our intentions, which were to portage over the dam and paddle/portage the next 90 km. Through all ourefforts and the good will of the dam personnel, we not only were granted access to the dams nether regions, but were invited to stay at he compound run by Electroperu S.A, which included the best dinner with professional waitstaff in the executive dining hall, clean warm beds in the immaclate bunkhouse, wifi (as evidenced by this post), access to the clubhouse (with bar, as evidenced by the whiskey and coke sitting by my side) and wait for it, wait for it: HOT SHOWERS! Here we were expecting another beautiful night under the stars, though not the lap of luxury and we end up being treated like kings. Thanks, so much, to Kevin of Electroperu for having us as his guest with such a warm welcome.
I portaged the kayak around the dam and was met with this nice surprise, so there you have it, out of the blue the kindness of strangers shines through.
retrieved from: http://theamazonexpress2012.com/expedition-resources/
West Hanson is a veteran kayak racer and is kayaking the Amazon from source to sea as part of a National Geographic Expeditions Council Grant.
Fire Ecology in Australia's Simpson Desert: Andrew Harper has been observing fire ecology at work and collecting scat for ASC
By Andrew Harper, ASC Adventurer:
Now that I have nearly completed my journey across the desert, I am in a position to report on how I have observed the impact of fire, particularly the major bushfires that began in September 2011. Fire has shaped the Australian landscape for thousands of years and is part of the desert boom/bust cycle.
In conjunction with Sydney University’s Institute of Wildlife Research and Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, I am keeping a detailed record of the actual ‘on ground’ impact of the fires. This is known as ground truthing and will give researchers more detailed information that can be used alongside satellite imagery. I have also been collecting scats from dingos, cats, foxes and larger raptors. These will be analyzed to see what these animals have been eating in recent times. As you would expect, the long haired rat figures prominently in the diet of these predators. The scat count to date is 124 samples.
Up until five days ago, I would estimate from my journal, that approximately 85% of my journey to date has been through country that has been affected, in some degree, by fire in the last 12 months. For my own ID purposes, I have made four levels to help categorize the different impact of the fires.
1 – country completely burnt with little or no established shrubs/trees remaining. All spinifex completely missing from landscape.
2 – country completely burnt in a ‘slow fire’ with some established mid-level shrubs remaining relatively unburnt. All spinifex missing from landscape.
3 – country completely burnt in a ‘slow fire’ with some established mid-level shrubs remaining relatively unburnt and some small isolated patches of spinifex remaining.
4 – gidgee forest fires that have burnt to the top canopy and the trees are now re-shooting.
A firescar line on the side of the dune. Photo Courtesy of Andrew Harper and reconnXpedition 2012
Spinifex is traditionally the dominant plant in the dune fields and in all my previous walks across the desert from west to east, the memories are of the endless sea of this spiny leafed plant that provides an important habitat for reptiles and small mammals. It is extremely flammable and once ignited, a major spinifex fire can turn into an inferno and burn for weeks. That is basically what happened last summer.
In my 16 years of walking in the Simpson, I have never seen it like this – no spinifex. I actually saw some today and stopped to take a photo of it, it was so unusual to see it. Of course, in some parts of the desert, particularly the further south you travel into South Australia where the salt lakes begin, the spinifex becomes naturally thinner on the ground. But to walk from Andado to Eyre Creek and hardly see any at all, is (for me) very rare.
Andrew Harper has been traveling the Simpson Desert with his trusty team of camels for 16 years either on commercial trips or scientific trips. He decided to trek the desert this time to explore the desert himself. Read more of his adventures at http://reconnxpedition2012.wordpress.com/latest-news/
Adventurers and Scientists Latest Expedition Follows the Travels of National Geographic Adventurer, West Hanson, as He Paddles the The Amazon From Source to Sea
Reported on September 3rd:
The white water team spent the last few days covering some of the hairiest sections of white water on the upper stretches of the Amazon river basin. We spent several nights out under the stars on the banks ofthe river. One night I saw the reflective eyes of what seemed to be a large cat, or Puma, making it’s way towards the campsite. It watched me for awhile before heading back uphill. The boys were in their sacks already, but I felt this new addition was worthy enough to rouse them a bit. Another night we were stirred awake by a large landslide on the opposite side of the river. The sand flies have been biting a bit. I can’t feel them biting, but will look down at my legs and wipe them away now and then. They pull out a good bit of blood and leave lovely welts.
The white water has been challenging, but the team proved once again to rise to the occasion. We’ve hadto line the raft and portage a few of the heavier rapids, but have run most of them. I can’t say enough about the level of skill and maturity these guys have shown in their river skills, team work and overall approach to adversity. Each of these guys seems to excel in one particular aspect and they compliment one another quite nicely.
Right now, we’re back in town from the last 78 mile run. The white water team has to take off due to other commitments and due to the extended timeline it’s taken us to complete the current sections. I’ve learned so much about expedition planning, etc… over the past couple of weeks. The main thing has been to toss out any pre-concieved timelines, as the variables are just too spread out to nail down. I had not counted on illness of team members, the amount of time it takes to get a large number of people to move in one direction (“Didn’t I say to use the restroom BEFORE we left the hotel?”), driving time on roads normally used by goats and llamas in soccer mom minivans, etc..
So, the plan now is for Juanito De Ugarte, white water lead, to gather together another team to finish the final 87 mile push of white water. While he’s doing that the team will go back and fill in the easier sections of the upper reaches of the Amazon that were skipped. As a review, we opted to use the Tigers (Rafa Ortiz, Tino Specht, Juanito De Ugarte and Simon Yerovi )for the most difficult sections of white water, then set them lose for their other commitments. So, we skipped the easier sections that can be completed without such heavy fire power for support.
Retrieved From http://theamazonexpress2012.com/
West Hanson is an accomplished white water paddler and kayak ultra-marathon racer. He received a National Geographic Expeditions Council Grant to paddle the Amazon from Source to Sea. Along the way he will collect data on
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