Eco-briefs | The dirty past of European glaciers

Evidence shows soot led to the retreat of glaciers.
Photo courtesy of Peter Holy

The dirty past of European glaciers

Black carbon dust — soot — from coal burnt to fuel rapid industrialization in Europe is suspected as the cause for rapid glacier retreat in the Alps in the 1860s, during a period the weather was showing cooling temperatures on average, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This study uncovers some likely human fingerprints on our changing environment,” said Waleed Abdalati, a co-author of the study and director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. “It’s a reminder that the actions we take have far-reaching impacts on the environment in which we live.”

Records of glaciers in the central European Alps show glaciers retreated an average of .6 miles between 1860 and 1930.

Black carbon, released from residential, transportation and industrial coal burning activities, increased the carbon in the air. Black carbon particles that settled on the snow darken the surface and led to increased and faster melt.

Research will now turn to the Himalayas to study the current effects of black carbon.

— Elizabeth Miller

How-to for new green thumbs

For those who would like to say “I can’t,” Growing Gardens is coming to the rescue to say, “You can… can.”

The Boulder nonprofit that runs local community gardens is organizing classes on canning, cheese-making and creatively cooking between summer seasons. The canning class, hosted by Lauren Richardson, Growing Gardens greenhouse manager and 10-year veteran canner, will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Growing Gardens Greenhouse, 1630 Hawthorn Ave., Boulder. “Fresh Cheese Making,” with Chef Michael Montgomery, will cover making cultured butter, yogurt, ricotta and mozzarella. Montgomery was an instructor at the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts for seven years. Montgomery is also teaching “Cooking from the Pantry,” on making creative use of dried staples and grains. The cheese making class begins at 6 p.m. Sept. 19 and the pantry cooking class begins at 6 p.m. Oct. 10. Both will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine St., Boulder. Classes are $40 each or $105 for the trio.

— Elizabeth Miller

Free fair for forests

From March to November, wildfires dominate the headlines in Colorado more often than baseball scores. And even when fires aren’t raging, their aftermath — like mudslides and floods in burn areas — pose risks for residents.

So the Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and other government and non-government partners will again address forest health when they hold the Third Annual Colorado Forestry Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Boulder County Nederland Sort Yard in Nederland.

The fair, which was held in Fort Collins the past two years, will highlight “forest stewardship through active management,” a Colorado State Forest Service press release says.

The free fair will feature kids’ activities like seed plantings and puppet shows, presentations on fire safety practices, demonstrations of forestry equipment and field tours on ecology and weed identification. It will also include networking opportunities in forestry and natural resource management.

“This fair, similar to Colorado’s diverse forest environments, provides something for everybody — from real-world demonstrations for forest landowners to fun activities for youth,” Jamie Dahl, CSFS experiential learning coordinator and event organizer, said in the press release.

— Steve Weishampel