Japan’s first glacier discovered in Tateyama mountain range

“(Mainichi Japan) April 04, 2012”

The Gozenzawa snow ravine where Japan's first glacier was confirmed, pictured at left, is seen in this aerial photograph. (Mainichi)
拡大写真

The Gozenzawa snow ravine where Japan’s first glacier was confirmed, pictured at left, is seen in this aerial photograph. (Mainichi)
拡大写真

Mainichi Japan April 04, 2012
A body of ice found by museum officials in the Tateyama mountain range in Japan’s Northern Alps has received official recognition from the Japanese Society of Snow and Ice as Japan’s first glacier.
Previously it was thought that there were no glaciers in East Asia south of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.
“Confirming the existence of a glacier in a warm place like Japan is a major find,” said Yoshiyuki Fujii, 67, former chairman of the society. The finding will be published in the May issue of the society’s journal.
The Japanese Society of Snow and Ice is the only body in Japan that confirms glaciers. It is believed that the Tateyama mountain range’s large snowfall in the winter and low summer temperatures created the right conditions for a glacier to form in the area.
The Tateyama Caldera Sabo Museum started investigating the area in 2009, drilling holes through 15 to 20 meters of surface snow to reach the body of ice, and then inserting poles into the gaps. In September and October last year, GPS measurements were taken to determine the distance the ice had traveled. They found that the ice had moved between 7 and 32 centimeters around the San no Mado and Komado ravines of 2,999-meter Mount Tsurugi, and the Gozenzawa ravine of 3,003-meter Mount Oyama. The data was examined by the Japanese Society of Snow and Ice, which officially recognized the body of ice as a glacier on April 1.
Keishi Ishimoto, the 64-year-old editor-in-chief of the society’s journal and an adviser at the Hokkaido branch of the Japan Weather Association commented, “Various people have conducted investigations in different spots, but hadn’t been able to confirm anything. Using the latest equipment to obtain concrete data was what led to confirmation this time,” he said.

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