Archive for September, 2008

Glaciers to disappear in the Pyrenees by 2050

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Glaciar de Monteperdido in the Aragonese Pyrenees (El País)

A Spanish study published in The Holocene has concluded that the progressive rise in temperatures since 1890 will lead to the total disappearance of the Pyrenean glaciers by 2050.

Glaciers advanced during the Little Ice Age (LIA) between 1300 and 1860 in the Pyrenees, Picos de Europa and Sierra Nevada. These were most extensive in the Pyrenees (because of altitude and latitude) but today glaciers remain only in the highest peaks. There were six glaciers in the Picos de Europa Massif during the LIA, and one glacier, the southernmost of Europe, in the Sierra Nevada (Pico de Veleta). All of these glaciers have been in continuous retreat since the end of the nineteenth century, 94 have disappeared completely (Veleta in 1913), leaving 29 glaciers in the Pyrenees (10 in Spain, 11 in France), four buried icepatches in the Picos de Europa and one buried icepatch in the Sierra Nevada. The last 15 years has seen a 50-60% reduction in surface area of the largest glaciers.

The Little Ice Age was not a continuous period of cold. These Iberian glaciers expanded most rapidly between 1645 and 1710, and then shrunk between 1750 and the early 19th century but then recovered after a new cold period. Since the end of the 19th century temperatures have risen more sharply by 0.7ºC and 0.9ºC in the mountains in northern Spain in line with global warming. El País

See also

  • Climate guide to Spain
  • The Little Ice Age in Spain
  • Glaciers in Spain (2004) Spanish glaciers melting fast Greenpeace has released a report on the state of Spain’s glaciers. The glaciers on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees are melting fast.. Total surface area has dropped from 1779 hectares in 1894 to 290 in 2000, representing a fall of 85% in of surface area. 52% of this has occurred in the last 20 years, and 30% between 1991 and 2001.

Pheasant Island

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Surfing the Net I came across the tiny Pheasant Island, one the world’s four remaining condominiums. The island is on the River Bidassoa and is under the joint sovereignty of France and Spain, and administered by Irun (in Spain) and Hendaye (in France) for alternating periods of six months. It covers 2,000 m2 and is known as Isla de los Faisanes in Spanish, Île des Faisans, Île de l’hôpital or Île de la Conférence in French and Konpantzia in Basque.

The Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed here in 1659 putting an end the Thirty Years’ War, as shown in the painting below, and the site has been used for numerous exchanges of captives and princesses to be wed.

An interesting piece of trivia for geographical nerds like myself. The rest of you may struggle to find any interest. (more…)

Schreiber’s bats in Soria

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Iberianatureforum member Alfredo recently sent me this rather spendid photo of a pair of Schreiber’s bats (Miniopterus schreibersi – murciélago de cueva) roosting in a cave. Apologies to him for the delay in posting this. He notes “One of our guests sent me a photo they took whilst walking through a small gorge on the way to the Canyon Rio Lobos Natural Park. They entered one of the many limestone caves throughout this area and came across a few bats….the long fingers are a give away for the species.  ” The photo was taken by Dulana Herath who has kindly allowed me to publish it here. Click on Dulana’s photo to see the bats in all their glory.

Alfredo also runs Spanishfootsteps which offers a range of expert walking and driven guided tours in Soria, one of the least known and fascinating parts of Iberia.

Adapting to bears in the Aran Valley

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

It seems that farmers are beginning to adapt to living with bears in the Vall d’Aran, Catalonia. The number of sheep killed by bears has been cut drastically (10 compared to 18 last year) by the simple solution of grouping herds together and hiring a shepherd to look after them. The 10 dead sheep belong to herders who haven’t joined the new scheme. The next problem on the agenda is how to protect beehives. Adapted from Lucy’s post on the forum. El Periódico

Loggerhead turtle eggs to be buried in Fuerteventura

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

800 Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta – tortuga boba) eggs are to be buried today in La Playa de Cofete de Fuerteventura in an attempt to reintroduce the species in the Canary Islands. The eggs have been brought from the Cape Verde. 200 more are to be sent to the Centro de Recuperación de Especies in Taliarte, in Gran Canaria, and 400 to the Estación Biológica in Doñana, Andalucia. Loggerhead turtles disappeared from the Canary Islands some 300 years ago. It wil take at least 15 years to be able to begin to measure the success of the project when hopefully some of those turtles hatched will return to the same beach as adults. Terra

More on loggerhead turtles (Wikipedia – above photo) which notes that the genus name “Caretta” is a latinization of the French “caret”, meaning turtle, tortoise, or sea turtle.  Small populations of loggerhead turtle in the Mediterranean exist in the Turkey and Greece.

See also: Loggerhead turtles hatch in Almeria (October 21st, 2007)

Tiger mosquito reaches Girona

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

The tiger mosquito continues its slow and seemingly unstoppable march, and has now reached Roses and L’Escala in Girona according to the Servicio de Control de Mosquitos de la Bahía de Roses y el del Baix Ter. La Vanguardia

Latest from the blogs

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Latest posts from Simon and Lucy which you may not have come across. Simon looks here are at the geology which may have helped inspire Guadí to build La Sagrada Familia, and Lucy tells the tale here of the last days of bee-eaters before they fly south.

37% of Spain at risk from desertification

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Tabernas (Almería)

Spain has finally implemented its first Programme of National Action against Desertification which recognises that 37% of the country is at a very high, high or medium risk from desertification, and is in danger of becoming “eroded forever”. This risk is also termed Sahelisation, after the North African region, and with coming climate change is set to worsen.

Since 2001 there has been a huge loss in fertile soil due to erosion totalling 17 tonnes per hectare per year: 67 millon tonnes of soil, much of which gets caught up in reservoirs, and representing an increase of 8% since 2001. The problem has been seriously heightened by intensive agriculture and the spread of urbanisation and infrastructures. El Mundo

Note: This figure of 37% has risen from 36% last year. See Threat of desertification (also with map of area)