Thursday, December 8, 2016

Chilly Field Days This Week

A bit work pressed. Had a few chilly days in the field this week trying to get a couple sites in before snow arrived. And I got a little taste of the Fraser outflow as well.

This slope was crunchy with wet leaves frozen making for a noisy walk up the slope.

Joints along the outer edge of a cliff.
Perhaps some unseen mechanical weathering taking place deep in the joints opening up some space.
Different footing than the usual on this steep cliffy area

Wind gusts rippling the water in East Sound

Steady northeast wind flowing into western Washington from the Fraser Valley in BC driving choppy waves onto the northeast shore of Orcas Island.
Mount Baker is in the distance
I had a good spot on the boat to enjoy the sun and view of Blakely Island cliffs

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Bølgen (The Wave) - a Geology Hazard Movie

I watched Bølgen last evening. The movie is based on a very real geologic hazard (Oppikofer and others, 2009). The film was very well done and was a fair representation of what I know of the landslide and the hazard it poses. It far exceeds any geology disaster movie.

Large landslide displacement waves have been generated in Lake Roosevelt. There is an oral history of a landslide displacement wave that struck Hat Island off of Everett (TulalipHMP2010Sec3b.pdf) and landslide generated waves are recognized as a potential hazard (Puget Sound Tsunami Sources 2002 Workshop). An estimated 2-meter landslide displacement wave was reported Dabob Bay from a 1997 landslide (Phillips, personal communication).    

Friday, December 2, 2016

Music for Snow - Lisa Hannigan

With at least a glimmer of possible snow maybe it will helped by a snow song from Lisa's new album.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Baker Ski Area, Queest-Alb Glacier and Trumpian Snow Claims

Regarding the report the claim by the Mount Baker Ski Area that they had 83 inches of snow depth, Cliff Mass asked, "Are these Trumparian claims?". The trumparian term is readily understand and perhaps a new word is entering our language for describing outrageous claims.

It turns out that Baker does indeed get a lot of snow. Its a mix of being at the right elevation and protruding out a bit from the main front of mountains. Cliff Mass presents a rationale as to why the Mount Baker Ski area gets so much snow: that added to my ideas about the heavy snow fall.

There are hints that a few other locations get huge amounts of snow that have similar aspects. One is the Queest-Alb Glacier below the west ridge of Thee Fingers. The ridge is at about 6,000 feet so it receives plenty winter snow. By comparison the Upper Mount Baker Skit Area is at 5,000 feet.

Aerial view of Queest-Alb Glacier

The Quesst-Alb Glacier is highly dependent on winter snow to overcome its relatively low elevation and western aspect. The west part of the range Cascades are warmer in the winter but cooler in the summer compared to the east, more interior parts of the range. The Queest-Alb Glacier has retreated back from its 1989 position shown on the map above.

Queest-Alb Glacier with 1989 extent outlined in blue

Monday, November 28, 2016

White barked Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir)

Although my field ventures are typically focused on geology, I do note the flora around me. However, I lack education and ongoing learning to provide astute explanations - there are a lot of gaps in my understanding of plant biology and ecosystem. A fair bit of self learning and I remain very humble about just what I am seeing and what it means.

I came across a set of evergreens with very white back while visiting a site in the North Cascades.  

What were these white barked evergreens? I started going through a list of possibilities. The site was a low elevation site, but well within the mountains. Climate wise yearly rain fall is very high at 80 plus inches per year. The site is low enough that winters are generally mild, but inland enough that periods of hard freezes should be expected. The site was in one of the deep valleys with valley ridges on the order of 5,000 feet or more. Hence, nearby areas have very different growing conditions and tree species. Avalanche hazard zones are located on the slopes with evidence of periodic avalanches all the way to the valley floor in places.

It was pretty easy to tell just what the trees were by finding cones.

 Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir) cone.
So not an unusual tree species at all. Douglas fir can and does often have light colored bark as young trees. I can not be entirely sure of the age of these trees, but based the site was disturbed in the late 1970s and early 1980s so these trees may be 30 years old.
I can say that the growing conditions are very harsh. The site essentially had no soil and was underlain by cobbles and boulders. The excessive drainage has created a somewhat out of place dry ecosystem that has stunted the trees throughout the area. Indeed many were dead perhaps not able to survive once attaining larger size with a couple of hot long dry summers thrown in the mix. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Political Sunday: Tea Leaves up the Skagit

I took advantage of the rare break in the wet weather on Friday and headed out to do some field work up the Skagit. My venture took me past political message enthusiast east of Concrete.
 I will be curious how the swamp draining will be perceived over the next couple of years or so. I have a sense that this sentiment may be misinterpreted. I don't think it is entirely directed at perceived corruption, but is also directed at government in general.

This concept is a bit backed up by "LOCK THEM UP" and the classic "don't tread on me" (Gadsen)flag.

Digesting this past presidential election can lead to some erroneous views by broad generalizations. My political experience has been concentrated at a local level - county and city. The views expressed along Highway 20 above are nearly lost in the political leanings of Washington State, but I might be able to project a bit about what these views mean at a local, Skagit County level. At that level they may have some influence, and perhaps even more meaning.

One take-away I have about presidential politics is that it has become very localized. What voters in California, Texas, New York, Alabama and Washington as well as the vast majority of states think almost does not matter. The presidential political struggles both in the general election and in the primaries is focused on small localized slivers of populations in "battle ground" states. Small swings of a small subset in those states drives political positioning. It is a bit maddening that large swaths of the country are rendered politically irrelevant and national interests are driven by small subsets of our nation.    

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Safe Travels: Lisa Hannigan - Home - Live in Kinsale

I am staying put sort of this Thanksgiving.

But a blog tradition for this time of year is a bit of Lisa Hannigan for those going "home" for the big meal:

And the blog's Thanksgiving travel music traditional song: