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Climber Scientist Peru Expedition Report · June 20, 2012

A team of AAC Volunteers is in Peru right now on the Climber Scientist Peru Expedition, following up on their 2011 scientific work. Below you’ll find a report from the field. Stay tuned to the AAC News for more reports from Peru!

By AAC Member, CSP-Peru Co-Director, AAC Conservation Committee Chair Ellen Lapham:

We volunteers are continuing the AAC´s long tradtion of leading and discovery in high places. In our case, we are researching the high elevation ecosystem. I am writing you from Huaraz elev 10,000 ft., after we had a successful ascent of Picso, initiating our science program and acclimatizing. Tomorrow we leavefor the Ishinca Valley. In all, over 7 weeks we plan to climb 14 peaks, gathering data from high valleys below to

the glaciers to the summit.

Of major interest is the ecosystem services that the high mountains provide. These include fuels, carbon cycling, water quality and amount, and nutirent recycling. They can be impacted by fire, warming climate, grazing, airborne pollutants, and human sources – including urbanization, industry, and recreation.

Our team of 16 is very strong in both science and climbing and we are excited to be in year two of our three year field research program! We are AAC members from New York City to Bowling Green, KY to Boulder, CO to Reno, NV to Bellingham WA,and points in between. We come from universities and labs, and most important, we embody the spirit and curiosity of American climbers.

Below is my first short report to you.

Plus, you can read more, learn about our 2012 science programs, and see
pictures on our Facebook page.


Our new expedition motto: Start slowly and then taper off !


Of note – at least I found this interesting:
– Lima Peru is the second largest destert city in the world after Cairo  –
60% of the world´s population depends on glaciers for their water supply

We have accomplished the following in the past week:
– Teated solar albedo equipment – a spectrometer ‘ to insure it works in
the field by taking spectra of native vegetationat 15,000 ft. elevation.
We also added a cow pie as there is significant grazing in the high
vegetated areas of Huascaran National Park.

– Obtained snow samples at designated elevations includding Pisco´s summit
which we then melted and filtered at basecamp. Carl will be analyzing them
for black carbon which, if present in sufficient amounts on the snow
surface,can accelerate glacial melt.

– Tested vegetation protols on high elevation polylepis forest.This is a
tree of the rose family that thrives in Peru and Nepal and other mountain
regions. Only 5% of this tree remains worldwide,most likely lost due to
grazing. Rebecca is investiating how this tree propigates – is it through
root spreading or some other mechanism…

– Obtained satellite control points – that is also called ground truth –
in a continuation of the work started in last year´s expedition that will
help John interpret the remote data more accurattely.

We are working with the local university UNASAM here in Huaraz. We have
engaged students and professors in the environmental studies as well as
the provost. Students will be accompanying us in the field to learn our
techniques and advance their education. We also have been asked to give
lectures at the university.

Especially exciting is that Huascaran National Park, that includes the
Cordillera Blanca, has asked us to undertake studies that are important
for the health of the region. These fit into our science program so we are
pleased to be of service. Specifcally they include:

– Polylepis forest regeneration.

– Water quality throughout the Park,testing at the higher elevations that
are currently not tested. Ruth´s specialy is toxicolgy and water quality.
– The impact on water quality as glaciers recede,which they aredoing atan
alarming rate in the Cordillera Blanca.

– Human waste management in the most popular areas of the Park.  Last year
John All, 2012 Co-director, and I wrote a report on human waste management
in the Lllaca Valley atthe request of the Park director. We are building
on the knowledge gained from the AAC sponsored 2010 conference, Exit
Strategies:Managing Human Waste in the Wild.  We plan to focus on the
Santa Cruz Valley which sees large amounts of trekking.

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