Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Nina Munteanu’s Writing Featured in “Morphology” Art Exhibit

“We are water, what we do to water, we do to ourselves”—Nina Munteanu

Author's editor Merridy Cox
On Sunday January 14, “Morphology”, an art/writing exhibit and gala located in the world-class Lakeview Water Treatment Plant celebrated the new Waterfront Connection through the eyes of eleven photographers and writer/limnologist Nina Munteanu.

The show documented the initial stages of the newly created wetlands in Lakeview, Mississauga, on the shores of Lake Ontario. This revitalization project was the realized dream of visionary Ward 1 Councillor Jim Tovey, and was spearheaded by various organizations, including Credit Valley Conservation Foundation, The Region of Peel and the TRCA. The Lakeview Waterfront Connection reclamation project will extend from the old Lakeview generating station to Marie Curtis Park in Toronto When completed, the 64-acre site will provide 1.5 km of beach, meadow, forest, wetland and islands—providing excellent habitat for migratory birds, fish and other aquatic life. Clean rubble from demolition projects are being used to build new land.
Julie Knox with her photo art
“It is the first ecosystem that’s ever been built in Lake Ontario in the GTA—ever,” said Councillor Tovey.

The art of eleven photographers documented the early stages of the wetland construction. "It sort of looks like a Salvador Dali surrealistic sculpture garden...and what an interesting way to really celebrate all of this," said Councillor Tovey to the Mississauga News. Nina Munteanu was invited to provide water-related literature to augment the photography; quotes from Munteanu’s “Water Is…” and her upcoming novel “A Diary in the Age of Water” appeared in key locations with the photo art.

Nina cranks the water
Reiterating Jim Tovey’s earlier comment on the water treatment plant as its own sculpture-art, Munteanu celebrated the location and the nature of the exhibit: “When technology, art and ecology are celebrated together for humanity’s progress, you get magic.”

The Honourable Elisabeth Dowdeswell (Lieutenant Governor of Ontario) was present for the exhibit: “The Great Lakes … face certain challenges,” said The Honourable Dowdeswell. “Threats such as increased pollution, habitat destruction and climate change are all having negative effects on much of our natural world.”
Councillor Jamieson gets "Water Is..."

Cathie Jamieson, Councillor of the New Credit First Nation gave a stirring speech. “We are the water carriers and it’s in our best interest to respect and take care of our natural surroundings for the next seven generations,” she said. Councillor Jamieson was presented with a copy of “Water Is…” during the exhibit.

The exhibit will be moved and on public display at Mississauga’s Great Hall in March 2018. It is a must see!

Featured this year is the photo art by: Gabriella Bank, Sandor Bank, PJ Bell, Darren Clarke, Julie Knox, Lachlan McVie, Marcelo Leonardo Pazรกn, Martin Pinker, Annette Seip, Stephen Uhraney and Bob Warren; and written quotes by Nina Munteanu from “Water Is…” and upcoming “A Diary in the Age of Water”.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

When Greenland Melts…

“The ice sheet below tells a tale of disintegration,” writes Eli Kintisch of Science as the helicopter of scientists hovers over Greenland’s interior. “Long, roughly parallel cracks score the surface, formed by water and pressure; impossibly blue lakes of meltwater fill depressions; and veiny networks of azure streams meander west, flowing to the edge of the ice sheet and eventually out to sea.”

Greenland’s ice sheet is the second largest ice mass in the world (after Antarctica). It covers about 10% of the Earths surface and holds three quarters of the world’s freshwater. The sheet contains enough water to raise sea levels by at least 20 feet. Glaciers flowing from the Greenland Ice Sheet have been retreating since the 1990s. Melt rate of the ice sheet is accelerating, losing 8,000 tons per second.

In 2016, ice melt started early and spread inland fast. By April, 12% of the ice sheet’s surface was melting. In an average year the melt doesn’t reach 10% until June, writes Kintisch about this growing “liquid fury.” Between 2011 and 2014, satellite data and modelling suggested that “70% of the annual 269 billion tons of snow and ice shed by Greenland was lost through surface melt, not calving [which itself had surged recently].” This added surface melt has doubled Greenland’s contribution to global sea level rise. “Things are happening a lot faster than we expected,” said geophysicist Isabella Velicogna of the University of California, Irvine.

What does this mean? “Greenland holds the equivalent of more than 7 metres of sea level rise in its thick mantle of ice,” writes Kintisch. You don’t need to do the math to understand the significance.

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. But warmer moist air is not solely responsible for this accelerated melt. Microbes and algae are thriving on the wet surface, producing pigments that boost the ice’s absorption of solar energy. Soot and dust blowing in from lower latitudes darken the ice with the same effect.

Kintisch writes of the scientists’ mission called “Black and Bloom” (referring to the soot and the algae, respectively) to study how these organisms are affecting the behaviour of the melting ice sheet. “We’re driven by curiosity,” says team leader Martyn Tranter, a biogeochemist at the University of Bristol, “but also the fear that all this new biology may accelerate global sea level rise.”

Scientists have found that dust and soot from European factories and Canadian wildfires have over the centuries been trapped and concentrated at the melting edge of the ice sheet. The scientists suspect that algae and bacteria play a sinister role in exacerbating the melt in places where the ice surface has become pocked with holes of crystal clear meltwater underlain by a spot of black sludge—known as cryoconite—at the bottom. Cryoconite is living bacteria that captures solar energy; it keeps the water from freezing. Brown-pigmented algal extremophiles that thrive in the freezethaw cycles also stain massive areas of ice. This growing meltwater ecosystem may drive an ever-accelerating melt.
As the Arctic warms, melt episodes are likely to “occur much more frequently in the future,” says Dirk van As of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland in Copenhagen.

Climate scientist Marco Tedesco of Columbia University published a study that gave evidence for retreating Arctic sea ice disrupting the polar jet stream, causing weather systems to mender more slowly from west to east. What this means is unclear; but it confirms that extent and complexity of ecosystem changes on a global scale. Scientists also documented the exponential (nonlinear) character of the change. What this means is that change will compound itself as systems cascade.

Acknowledging the challenges of working in the growing meltwaters of a giant ice sheet, the Black and Bloom researchers also felt wonder at the transforming landscape. Jim McQuaid of the University of Leeds said, “Each evening we marveled as the sun went low, enjoying the fact that we were somewhere no one else had been, and would never be again, because of the melt.”

Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of award-nominated speculative novels, short stories and non-fiction. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Visit for the latest on her books. Nina’s recent book is the bilingual “La natura dell’acqua / The Way of Water” (Mincione Edizioni, Rome). Her latest “Water Is…” is currently an Amazon Bestseller and NY Times ‘year in reading’ choice of Margaret Atwood.