Risks and Benefits of Global Warming and the Loss of Mountain Glaciers and Ice Patches to Archeological, Paleoclimate, and Paleoecology Resources
KeywordsIce patch archaeology, global warming, Rocky Mountain National Park
AbstractScientific documentation of global warming, despite disagreement on its ultimate causes, includes measurable rises in sea levels, more frequently stronger and more violent weather patterns, and accelerating melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, long-existing glaciers, and “permanent” snow fields. In recent years, there have been numerous discoveries of ancient human, animal, and plant remains melted from long-frozen snow and ice, finds which recently led to development of a new subfield of archaeology known as ice patch or glacial archaeology. Ice patch organic remains, once exposed, are subject to rapid deterioration and destruction. Both cultural and natural remains, if identified and collected prior to extended surface exposure can provide extraordinary evidence about past societies, climates, and ecosystems. This article provides a short background and discussion on the nature and history of the emerging science of glacier/ice patch archaeology and describes results of an on-going study in the United States’ southern Rocky Mountains where ice patch evidence for climate change is integrated with more traditional paleoclimate and archaeological research to reconstruct several millennia of cultural, climate, and ecological landscape evolution.
Alix C., Hare P.G., Andrews T.D. & MacKay G., 2012, A thousand years of lost hunting arrows: Wood analysis of ice patch remains in northwestern Canada, Arctic 65 (Supplement 1): 95-117.
Andrews T.D. & MacKay G., 2012, The Archaeology and Paleoecology of Alpine Ice Patches: a global perspective, Arctic 65 (Supplement 1): iii-vi.
Andrews T.D., MacKay G. & Andrews L., 2009, Hunters of the Alpine Ice: The NWT Ice Patch Study, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, Education, Culture and Employment, Government of the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife, Canada.
Andrews T.D., MacKay G. & Andrews L., 2012a, Archaeological investigations of alpine ice patches in the Selwyn Mountains, Northwest Territories, Canada, Arctic 65(Supplement 1): 1 -21.
Andrews T.D., MacKay G., Andrew L., Stephenson W., Barker A., Alix C., et al., 2012b, Alpine ice patches and Shu´htagot’ine land use in the Mackenzie and Selwyn Mountains, Northwest Territories, Canada, Arctic 65(1): 22–42.
Benedict J.B., 1999, Effects of changing climate on game-animal and human use of the Colorado High Country (U.S.A.) since 1000 BC, Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 31(1): 1-15.
Benedict J.B., Benedict R.J. & Lee C.M., 2008, Spruce Trees from a Melting Ice Patch: evidence for Holocene climatic change in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, U.S.A., The Holocene 18(7): 1067-1076.
Bortenschlager S. & Oeggl K., 2000, The Iceman and his natural environment: palaeobotanical results. Springer-Verlag, Wien and New York.
Brunswig R.H., 2003, Clovis-Age Artifacts from Rocky Mountain National Park and Vicinity, North Central Colorado, Current Research in the Pleistocene 20: 7-9.
Brunswig R.H., 2004, Hunting Systems and Seasonal Migratory Patterns through Time in Rocky Mountain National Park, [in:] R.H. Brunswig, W.B. Butler (eds), Ancient and Historic Lifeways of North America’s Rocky Mountains: Proceedings of the 2003 Rocky Mountain Anthropological Conference, Department of Anthropology, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley: 392-410.
Brunswig R.H., 2005, Prehistoric, Protohistoric, and Early Historic Native American Archeology of Rocky Mountain National Park: Final Report of Systemwide Archeological Inventory Program Investigations by the University of Northern Colorado (1998-2002), Department of Anthropology, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Report submitted to Rocky Mountain National Park, National Park Service, Estes Park.
Brunswig R.H., 2007, Paleoindian Cultural Landscapes and Archaeology of North Central Colorado’s Southern Rockies, [in:] R.H. Brunswig & B.L. Pitblado (eds), Frontiers in Colorado Paleoindian Archaeology: From the Dent Site to the Rocky Mountains, University Press of Colorado, Boulder: 261-310.
Brunswig R.H., 2012, Apachean Archaeology of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, and the Colorado Front Range, [in:] D. Seymour (ed.), From the Land of Ever Winter to the American Southwest: Athapaskan Migrations, Mobility, and Ethnogenesis, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Utah: 20-36.
Brunswig R.H., Doerner J. & Diggs D., 2014a, Phase 1 GIS Mapping of Cultural, Paleoclimatic and Paleoenvironmental Landscapes in Rocky Mountain National Park: Report to Rocky Mountain National Park, National Park Service, Departments of Anthropology and Geography & GIS, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado.
Brunswig R.H., Doerner J. & Diggs D., 2014b, Eleven Millennia of Human Adaptation in Colorado’s High Country: Modeling Cultural and Climatic Change in the Southern Rocky Mountains, [in:] S. Kulyk, C.G. Tremain, M. Sawyer (eds), Climates of Change: The Shifting Environments of Archaeology, University of Calgary, Chacmool Archaeological Association, Calgary, Canada: 273-286.
Brunswig R.H., Doerner J.P., Diggs D., Connor J., Benton L. & Edwards K., 2009, Report on a Pilot Study for Investigations into Cultural-Natural Landscapes and Ecological Patch Islands in Forest Canyon Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park, Department of Anthropology, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Report submitted to Rocky Mountain National Park, National Park Service, Estes Park.
Callanan M., 2012, Central Norwegian Snow Patch Archaeology: patterns past and present, Arctic 65: 178–188.
Callanan M., 2013, Melting snow patches reveal Neolithic archery, Antiquity 87: 728–745.
Doerner J.P., 2005, A High-Resolution Paleotemperature Record from Poudre Pass Fen, Rocky Mountain National Park, USA, Department of Geography, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley.
Doerner J.P., 2007, Late Quaternary Prehistoric Environments of the Colorado Front Range, [in:] R.H. Brunswig & B.L. Pitblado (eds), Frontiers in Colorado Paleoindian Archaeology: From the Dent Site to the Rocky Mountains, University Press of Colorado, Boulder: 11-38.
Doerner J.P., 2008, Holocene Fire History and Climate Change in Rocky Mountain National Park: Pollen and Charcoal Evidence from Bear Lake, Department of Geography, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Report submitted to Rocky Mountain National Park, National Park Service, Estes Park.
Doerner, J.P. & Brunswig R.H., 2008, Modeling Paleoenvironmental and Archeological Landscapes of Ancient Game Drive Systems in Rocky Mountain National Park, North Central Colorado, Departments of Anthropology and Geography, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Report submitted to Rocky Mountain National Park, National Park Service, Estes Park.
Elias S.A., 1983, Paleoenvironmental Interpretations of Holocene Insect Fossil Assemblages from the La Poudre Pass Site, Northern Colorado Front Range, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 41: 87-102.
Elias S.A., 1985, Paleoenvironmental Interpretations of Holocene Insect Fossil Assemblages from Four High-Altitude Sites in the Front Range, Colorado, U.S.A., Arctic and Alpine Research 7(1): 31-48.
Elias S.A., 1988, Late Pleistocene Paleoenvironmental Studies from the Rocky Mountain Region: A Comparison of Pollen and Insect Fossil Records, Geoarchaeology 3(2): 147-153.
Elias S.A., 1991, Insects and Climate Change: Fossil Evidence from the Rocky Mountains, Bioscience 41(8): 552-559.
Elias S.A., 1996, Late Pleistocene and Holocene seasonal temperatures reconstructed from fossil beetle assemblages in the Rocky Mountains, Quaternary Research 46: 311-318.
Elias S.A., 2001, Paleoecology and Late Quaternary Environments of the Colorado Rockies. [in:] W.D. Bowman, T.R. Seastedt (eds), Structure and Function of an Alpine Ecosystem, Oxford University Press, New York: 285-303.
Elias S.A., Short S.K. & Clark P.U., 1986, Paleoenvironmental Interpretations of the Late Holocene, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado U.S.A, Revue de Paleobiologie 5(1): 127-142.
Ermini L., Olivieri C., Rizzi E., Corti G., Bonnal R., Soares P., Luciani S., Marota I., De Bellis G., Richards M.B. & Rollo F., 2008, Complete mitochondrial genome sequence of the Tyrolean Iceman, Current Biology 18: 1687–1693.
Farnell R., Hale P.G., Blake E., Bowyer V., Schweger C., Greer S., et al., 2004, Multidisciplinary investigations of alpine ice patches in southwest Yukon, Canada: paleoenvironmental and paleobiological investigations, Arctic 57(3): 247–259.
Galloway J. M., Adamczewski J., Schock D.M., Andrews T.D., MacKay G., Bowyer V.E., et al., 2012, Diet and habitat of mountain woodland caribou inferred from dung preserved in 5000-year-old alpine ice in the Selwyn Mountains, Northwest Territories, Canada, Arctic 65(1): 59–79.
Grosjean M., Suter P.J., Trachsel M. & Wanner H., 2007, Ice-borne prehistoric finds in the Swiss Alps reflect Holocene glacier fluctuations, Journal of Quaternary Science 22(3): 203–207.
Hafner A., 2012, Archaeological discoveries on Schnidejoch and at other ice sites in the European Alps, Arctic 65 (Supplement 1): 189-202.
Hare P.G., Greer S., Gotthardt R., Farnell R., Bowyer V., Schweger C. & Strand D., 2004, Ethnographic and archaeological investigations of alpine ice patches in southwest Yukon, Canada, Arctic 57(3): 260–272.
Hare P.G., Thomas C.D., Topper T.N. & Gotthardt R.M., 2012, The Archaeology of Yukon Ice Patches: new artifacts, observations, and insights, Arctic 65: 118–135.
Ion P.G. & Kershaw G.P., 1989, The selection of snowpatches as relief habitat by woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Macmillan Pass, Selwyn/Mackenzie Mountains, N.W.T., Canada, Arctic and Alpine Research 21(2): 203 -211.
Jacob T., Wahr J., Pfeffer W.T., & Swenson S., 2012, Recent contributions of glaciers and ice caps to sea level rise, Nature 482(7386): 514-518.
Kääb A., Paul F., Maisch M., Hoelzle M. & Haeberli W., 2002, The new remote sensing derived Swiss glacier inventory: II. first results, Annals of Glaciology 34: 362-366.
Keen J.M., 2008, Bodies from the Ice: melting glaciers and the recovery of the past, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
Khan S.A., Kjaer K.H., Bevis M., Bamber J.L., Wahr J., Kjeldsen K.K., Bjork A.A., Korsgaard N.J., Stearns L.A., van den Broeke M.R., Liu L., Larsen N.K. & Muresan I.S., 2014, Sustained mass loss of the northeast Greenland ice sheet triggered by regional warming, Nature Climate Change 4(4): 292-299.
Knoll C. & Kerschner H., 2009, A glacier inventory for South Tyrol, Italy, based on airborne laser-scanner data, Annals of Glaciology 50(53): 46-52.
Körner C., 2012, Treelines will be understood once the functional difference between a tree and a shrub is, Ambio 41(3): 197-206.
Kutschera W., 1994, Radiocarbon dating of the Iceman Ö’tzi with accelerator mass spectrometry, Radiocarbon 36(2): 1–9.
Kuzyk G.W., Russell D.E., Farnell R.S., Gotthardt R.M., Hare P.G. & Blake E., 1999, In pursuit of prehistoric caribou on Thandlät, southern Yukon, Arctic 52(2): 214-219.
Lambers K. & Zingman I., 2012, Towards detection of archaeological objects in high-resolution remotely sensed images: the Silvretta case study, [in:] Proceedings of the 40th Conference in Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology, Southampton, United Kingdom, Southhampton, England: 1-11.
Lee C.M., 2010, Global warming reveals wooden artefact frozen over 10000 years ago in the Rocky Mountains, Antiquity 84(325).
Lee C.M., 2011, Current Status of Ice Patch Surveys in Rocky Mountain National Park, 2010 Investigator’s Annual Report, Rocky Mountain National Park, National Park Service, Arctic and Alpine Institute, University of Colorado, Boulder.
Lee C.M., 2012, Withering snow and ice in the mid-latitudes: a new archaeological and paleobiological record for the Rocky Mountain Region, Arctic 65(1): 165-177.
Lee C.M. & Benedict J., 2012, Ice bison, frozen forests and the search for archaeology in Colorado Front Range ice patches, Colorado Archaeology 78 (1): 41-53.
Lee C.M., Benedict J. & Lee L.B., 2006, Ice patches and remnant glaciers: paleontological and archeological possibilities in the Colorado high country, Southwestern Lore 72: 26-41.
Lloyd A.H. & Graumlich L.J., 1997, Holocene dynamics of treeline forests in the Sierra Nevada, Ecology 78(4): 1199-1210.
Magny M. & Haas J.H., 2004, A major widespread climatic change around 5300 cal. yr BP at the time of the Alpine Iceman, Journal of Quaternary Science 19(5): 423–430.
Menounos B. & Reasoner M.A., 1997, Evidence for cirque glaciation in the Colorado Front Range during the Younger Dryas Chronozone, Quaternary Research 48: 38-47.
Meulendyk, T., Moorman, B. J., Andrews, T. D., & MacKay, G., 2012, Morphology and development of ice patches in Northwest Territories, Canada, Arctic 65(1): 43–58.
National Academy of Sciences, 2014, Climate Change Evidence & Causes: an Overview from the Royal Society and U.S. National Academy of Sciences, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
National Snow and Ice Data Center, 2014, World Glacier Inventory Database, University of Colorado, Boulder, http://nsidc.org/data/docs/noaa/g01130_glacier_inventory/ [Accessed: 27.10.2014].
Neve L.A., 2006, Soil Survey of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, National Resources Conservation Service, Department of Agriculture, Denver, Colorado.
Oeggl K., 2009, The significance of the Tyrolean Iceman for the archaeobotany of Central Europe, Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 18: 1-11.
Radic V. & Hock R., 2011, Regionally differentiated contribution of mountain glaciers and ice caps to future sea-level rise, Nature Geoscience 4: 91–94.Reasoner M. A. & Jodry M.A., 2000, Rapid response of alpine timberline vegetation to the Younger Dryas climate oscillation in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, USA, Geology 28(1): 51-54.
Reckin R., 2013, Ice patch archaeology in global perspective: archaeological discoveries from alpine ice patches worldwide and their relationship with paleoclimates, Journal of World Prehistory 26: 323–385.
Rogers S.R., Fischer M. & Huss M., 2014, Combining glaciological and archaeological methods for gauging glacial archaeological potential, Journal of Archaeological Science doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2014.09.010.
Rollo F., Ubaldi M. Ermini L. & Marota I., 2002, Ötzi's last meals: DNA analysis of the intestinal content of the Neolithic glacier mummy from the Alps, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 99(20): 12594-12599.
Short S.K., 1985, Palynology of Holocene sediments, Colorado Front Range: vegetation and treeline changes in the subalpine forest, American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists Contribution Series 16: 7-30.
Spindler K., 1993, The Man in the Ice: the Discovery of a 5,000 year-old body reveals the secrets of the Stone Age, Harmony Books, New York.
Spindler K., 1995, L’homme du glacier: une momie du glacier du Hauslabjoch vielle de 5,000 ans dans les Alpes de l’Özzal, L’Anthropologie 99(1): 104-114.
Surovell T.A. & Waguespack N.M., 2007, Folsom hearth-centered use of space at Barger Gulch, Locality B, [in:] R.H. Brunswig & B.L. Pitblado (eds) Frontiers in Colorado Paleoindian Archaeology: From the Dent Site to the Rocky Mountains, University Press of Colorado, Boulder: 218-259.
Suter P.J., Hafner A. & Glauser K., 2005, Lenk-Schnidjoch. Funde aus dem Eis-ein vor- und frühgeschichtlicher Passübergang, Archäologie im Kanton Bern 6B: 499-522.
Tranquillini, W.,1979, Physiological ecology of the alpine timberline, Ecological Studies 31: 119-131.
Vanzetti A., Vidale M., Gallinaro M., Frayer D.W. & Bobdioli L., 2010, The Iceman as burial, Antiquity 84: 681-692.
Vedeler M. & Jørgensen L.B., 2013, Out of the Norwegian glaciers: Lendbreen-a tunic from the early first millennium AD, Antiquity 87: 788–801.
Waguespack N.M. & Surovell T.A., 2014, A simple method for identifying households using lithic assemblages: a case study from a Folsom campsite in Middle Park, Colorado, [in:] D.H. MacDonald, W. Andrefsky, Jr. & P.-L. Yu (eds) Lithics in the West, University of Montana Press, Missoula: 35-49.
zur Nedden D., Wicke K., Knapp R., Siedler H., Wilfing H., Weber G., et al., 1994, New findings on the Tyrolean ‘Ice Man’: Archaeological and CT-body analysis suggest personal disaster before death, Journal of Archaeological Science 21: 809-818.
How to Cite
Number of views and downloads: 180
Number of citations: 3