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Michael Loso + Katelyn Goodwin - Trajectory and Fate of Human Waste on Denali's Kahiltna Glacier

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Michael Loso + Katelyn Goodwin
Trajectory and fate of Human Waste on Denali's Kahiltna Glacier
Exit Strategies Conference 2010
Sustainable Summits Initiative

Published in: Environment
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Michael Loso + Katelyn Goodwin - Trajectory and Fate of Human Waste on Denali's Kahiltna Glacier

  1. 1. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 Trajectory and fate of crevassed human waste on Denali’s Kahiltna Glacier Michael G. Loso, Ph.D. Katelyn Goodwin, MS candidate Alaska Pacific University Funded by Denali National Park and Preserve NPSphoto
  2. 2. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 The Problem Kahiltna Glacier is the busiest “trail” in the Denali National Park wilderness, and it has the least capacity to degrade human waste 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Pounds Year Kahiltna Total Cumulative waste burial 1970-2007 243,000 lbs
  3. 3. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 The Kahiltna Basecamp K Pass Heartbreak Hill 11,200’ camp Index Site Ski Hill 7800’ camp
  4. 4. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 Out of sight, out of mind? • Trajectory – Where will it emerge? – When? • Fate – Biologically active after burial? – Present in runoff? – Aesthetics? Burial Emergence
  5. 5. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 Trajectory: ice vectors Alaska Pacific University (2007-2009) National Park Service (1991-2002) • 5-65 cm/day • Mainstem typical 40-50 cm/day (~500’ / yr) net balance accumulation ablation ELA
  6. 6. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 Trajectory: model predictions Burial: 3360 m Emergence: 1060 m 51 km downstream 405 years later
  7. 7. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 Trajectory: model predictions Crevasse Location Elevation (m) Distance to meltout (km) Elevation at meltout (m) Years to meltout 11,200’ Camp 3360 51 1060 405 K Pass curve 3062 46 1174 314 Top ski hill 2777 43 1260 247 7800’ camp 2322 37 1415 168 Heartbreak 1992 30 1634 55 Index Site 1930 28 1690 32
  8. 8. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 Fate: biological activity • When in the “life cycle” of crevassed waste is it a health hazard? • Indicators: • fecal coliform • E. coli • others? • Sampling strategies: • Glacier surface • Buried • Emergent • Meltwater runoff KatieGoodwinphoto
  9. 9. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 Fate: glacier surface 10 m • Current disposal practices mostly effective, but… • fecal coliform and E. coli present in pee holes near camps • Improper disposal common on summit day • coliform and E. coli present in year old surface sample from 18,900’
  10. 10. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 Fate: buried waste Easting (m) Nanoteslas
  11. 11. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 Fate: emergent waste 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 MPN Freeze/Thaw cycles Total coliform E. coli • Lab results: freeze-thaw cycles kill off microbes • Physical degradation rate? • Field search in August
  12. 12. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 Fate: meltwater runoff • Does buried or emergent waste contaminate water supply? • Strategy: sample Kahiltna River and supraglacial ponds • Control: sample tributary (non-glacial) streams • Whiteman et al. (2005) found Salmonella and Pseudomonas spp in stream exiting Glacier du Mont Mine, Switzerland. Attributed to mountain hut at head of glacier.
  13. 13. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 Summary • >100 tons of waste buried in the Kahiltna • Emergence certain within 30-400 years • Biological activity likely after emergence • Aesthetic impact uncertain KatieGoodwinphoto NEXT STEPS • Search for emergent waste in August • Improved mass balance model and lower glacier velocities • Excavate buried waste in spring 2011 • Test for broader suite of pathogens
  14. 14. Loso Exit 7/31/2010 FINANCIAL SUPPORT Denali National Park and Preserve Murie Science and Learning Center Alaska Pacific University FIELD ASSISTANCE NPS mountaineering rangers and patrol members Jill Michalak Dustin English LAB AND LOGISTICAL SUPPORT Rusty Myers Jason Geck Louis Sass Thanks

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