23 November 2015
A rather splendid rock and ice avalanche video from New Zealand
Ryan Taylor was on a ski mountaineering trip in Mount Cook National Park when he captured a quite splendid rock and ice avalanche that originated from the Hochstetter Ice Fall below Mt Cook itself:-
In the commentary that he posted on Youtube he wrote the following:
Glacier collapsing in Mt Cook National Park, New Zealand caught by photographer Ryan Taylor during a ski mountaineering trip. I also captured a series of ice the size of several buildings falling off the Hochstetter Ice Fall below Mt Cook (highest peak in NZ). Similar events are naturally occurring several times a day (at 13 seconds in the video you can see a similar, smaller collapse in the background of the video) but it is evident climate change is causing glaciers to recede at an unprecedented rate. New Zealand’s 1st ski area was once located on the Ball glacier below Mt Cook which is now covered in rock debris. I assume with increasing average temperatures we are seeing more melting and consequently an increasing ratio of rainfall to snowfall in the accumulation areas of glaciers. It is important to raise awareness around climate change at this time with the international conference on climate change in Paris coming up. For those who don’t care about the glaciers disappearing it has potential to effect economies through loss of tourism and means less water available for irrigation.
The transition of this collapse event into a rock and ice avalanche is very interesting, as is the motion of the mass on the low angles slopes below. Of course this is quite a low friction system, with ice rich debris moving across a frozen surface, so mobility of the landslide mass is comparatively high.