Easton Glacier

Words on Weather & Climate

May 6, 2010 // 0 Comments

Glaciers by CRAIG JAMES In North America’s Glacier National Park there were about 150 glaciers when the park was established in 1910. By the beginning of this year, the number was down to 37. Here are comparison pictures of the Boulder Glacier in 1932 and in 2005. You can see in this picture of the Easton Glacier in the Cascade Mountains in the state of Washington the difference between the leading edge of the glacier in 1985 and 2008. Indeed, a recent survey has shown that at least 83% of the world’s glaciers are losing mass, or shrinking. But that means 17% of the world’s glaciers were not melting; they were stable or increasing. You can see a list of these glaciers online at www.iceagenow.com/List_of_Expanding_Glaciers.htm. You probably weren’t aware that in 2008 all of the glaciers in Alaska gained mass for the first time in 250 years. Still, the majority of the world’s glaciers are melting, but is this melting natural as we come out of the Little Ice Age or is it caused by increasing amounts of carbon dioxide? The poster child for glacier-melt has been Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. In Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore expressly attributed the loss of ice on the mountain to human-induced global warming. He even forecast that “within the decade, there will be no more snows of Kilimanjaro.” That was in 2005. A British Court has since ruled Gore’s point about Kilimanjaro is not true. Deforestation seems to be causing Mount Kilimanjaro’s shrinking glacier. Researchers think deforestation of the mountain’s foothills is the most likely culprit. Without the forests expelling humidity into the air, previously moisture-laden winds blowing across those forests now blow drier. The summit, no longer replenished with water from those winds, started shrinking. Studies show the ice is not melting; it is evaporating through a process called sublimation. You can witness this effect at home—have you ever noticed that ice cubes left in your freezer tend to shrink with time? As a confirmation of this research, satellite measurements have shown temperatures near the summit of the 19,340-foot mountain have not been above freezing since measurements began in 1979. But what about all the other glaciers that are melting? It appears this has been […]