Century-Long Glacier Study May Help Us Crack Climate Change
A scientist restarts longest glacier study with sketched maps and bear mace. See how the landscape has changed in that time.
It's not often an ecologist gets to play sleuth in so adventurous a fashion—picking through musty papers in the Midwest for 100-year-old hand-drawn maps that lead through dense Alaskan underbrush populated by wolves and brown bears. But that's how scientist Brian Buma tracked down the work of a legend—a godfather of modern ecology so prominent in his field that the Ecological Society of America has an award named after him.
Buma, a University of Alaska, Southeast, assistant professor, was hunting for nine tiny patches of land in the enormous wilderness of Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park. These square-meter-sized plots first mapped in 1916 by botanist William Skinner Cooper were central to one of the longest-running natural