WKU geography faculty member John All led a summer research expedition to the Cordillera Blanca of Peru.
Dr. All is the director of the American Climber Science Program and this ACSP expedition was supported by the American Alpine Club. Three WKU alumni accompanied the expedition and several WKU students along with Dr. Aaron Celestian, WKU associate professor of Geology, are helping to analyze the data.
The expedition was made up of 16 scientists, students and climbers from institutions including University of Colorado Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, National Center for Atmospheric Research, University of Nevada-Reno and Western Washington University.
During the expedition, 10 peaks (Pisco, Urus Este, Ishinca Traverse, Vallunaraju, Yanapaccha, Chopicalqui, Maparaju, San Juan, Alpamayo and Quitaraju) were climbed and sampled — up to 6,354 meters and grade D+. Nearly every member of the expedition summitted a peak – including eight who had never been above 5,000 meters previously.
The expedition collected data in Quilcayhuanca, Cayesh, Cojup, Ishinca, Llaca, Llanganuno and Santa Cruz valleys – six of the 10 major valleys in the park. Data acquired included hundreds of land cover and vegetation ground control points, multiple ecological plots, more than 100 snow/ice samples from the peaks, dozens of water quality samples, atmospheric and reflectance spectra for future atmospheric studies, and an archeological site.
The expedition strengthened its connection with UNASAM – the local university – and with the National Park staff. Next year the team will have several UNASAM students working on graduate degrees as part of the research program. Dr. All and his colleagues are working with UNASAM faculty on collaborative funding proposals and they hope to extend this cooperation in the future.
Overall, the group accomplished its major goals of devising research protocols that will be useful for a larger expedition in 2013 and of identifying gaps in efforts to examine holistically the environmental interactions in the Cordillera Blanca resulting from human activities and climate changes. The team will expand its research efforts next year by involving additional scientists with needed expertise.
More: For photos and posts/comments on the expedition visit www.mountainscience.org
Contact: John All, (270) 745-5975.