major shrinkage at Glacier National Park

The Schoolroom Glacier atop Cascade Canyon in Grand Teton National Park, in 1987 and 2007. Photos via GTNP; click to enlarge.

Glacier National Park continues to lose its namesake ice at an alarming rate.

Two more glaciers in the park have shrunk enough that they no longer warrant names, bringing the total down to 25 from a high of 150 in 1850. Ice fields must be at least 25 acres to be considered a glacier and merit naming.

A U.S. Geological Survey ecologist says all the remaining glaciers could be gone by the end of this decade.

In Grand Teton National Park, the Teton and Middle Teton glaciers have lost more than 20 percent of their surface area since 1967, according to researchers from the University of Wyoming.

In the Wind River Range, of the 53 glaciers monitored by UW researchers since 1985, all 53 have decreased in size, one by as much as 75 percent.

While all of these glaciers have been melting since the end of the last ice age, it’s the pace of the melt-off that concerns scientists. It’s like the difference between a cup of coffee and snorting coke.


Posted under Environment

6 Comments so far

  1. Hi There April 8, 2010 11:35 am

    Thanks for translating that into such scientific terms on your last sentence. Now I get it!

    Gimme a helicopter and some charges, and I’ll go save these glaciers myself. That’d be a good winter job. That’s the only hope!

    The snowfield under Central on Cody may be the only patch of snow in the world that gets bigger every year. I may be wrong, can anyone confirm this? On that note, may as well get some snowcats out there to farm us a glacier. Who needs an ice age when you can make a glacier with a few hundred gallons of diesel? Gimme a snowcat and some intoxicants, and I shall make sure the next generation can find some snow in the summer.

    Will one of these environmentalists out there please do something except talk??? We need a modern day hero to step up and save this place, and they don’t seem to be making avatars yet. Don’t ask me though, I vote for doom. If the future was like “Avatar”, I’d definitely want the robot with the guns over the geico lizard fella…

    Thanks for posting the Kazakhstan avalanche, it made my minute.

  2. D April 8, 2010 1:48 pm

    I am on my way up this summer to check it out.

  3. rachel. April 8, 2010 5:54 pm

    it’s okay… women know about shrinkage now.

  4. js April 8, 2010 6:55 pm

    you like the juxtaposition with Tiger?

    on a more serious note, here’s something I came across in a report about the melting ice in Glacier National Park:

    From 2000 to 2008, western Montana experienced an average of eight more days a year of 90-degree or higher temperatures, and eight fewer days a year of zero-degree or lower temperatures, than in 1900-1979.

    those who doubt climate change: duh.

  5. Mike April 9, 2010 12:38 pm

    lol, coffee and coke…

    seriously though, whoever can sit there and think that we didnt have an affect on speeding up global warming…I feel sorry for you.

    nice info js…that is interesting stuff. I have a book from my parents with a bunch of pictures of Colorado mountains from 100 years ago and then a picture from the same positino today…crazy you cat totally see the changes!

  6. Carl April 9, 2010 7:14 pm

    Even if its the grandest hoax of all time, what we get out of embracing human-driven climate change policy:
    -Cleaner air
    -abundant energy
    -domestic supplies
    -technological advancement
    -domestic economic advancement (long term)

    As I love to say, Kirk will never meet Spock rocketing on dinosaur juice.

    At last count, 90% of the world’s climatologists stand behind human-driven climate change. Petty contrarianism trumpeting short-term evidence is based less in empiricism and more in behavior science as it pertains to the contrarian.

    In short, disbelievers are so because they at best like the attention, at worse because they have an enormous intellectual inferiority complex.

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