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Glacier Retreat and Tourism: Insights from New Zealand

Heather Purdie
Mountain Research and Development
Vol. 33, No. 4 (Nov 2013), pp. 463-472
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Page Count: 10
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Glacier Retreat and Tourism: Insights from New Zealand
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Glacier tourism, a multimillion-dollar industry in New Zealand, is potentially under threat by ongoing glacial retreat. Surface morphology changes associated with retreat and thinning result in increasingly difficult access for guided walks on the Franz Josef Glacier, but simultaneously, an enlarging proglacial lake is increasing tourism opportunities at Tasman Glacier. Steepening ice slopes, increased debris cover, and an increase in the rockfall hazard are just some of the challenges glacier tourism operators face as glaciers around the world retreat. To date in New Zealand, glacier tourism has kept pace with ongoing glaciological change, often by increasing mechanized access. Focusing scientific research on short-term process studies—for example, determining thinning rates and assessing hazards—will help tour operators and policy-makers make decisions about future glacier utilization and accessibility.

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