Blank National Park

April 9, 2010

Hey, check it out, two down in Glacier National Park:

Glacier National Park has lost two more of its namesake moving icefields to climate change, which is shrinking the rivers of ice until they grind to a halt, a government researcher said Wednesday.

Warmer temperatures have reduced the number of named glaciers in the northwestern Montana park to 25, said Dan Fagre, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He warned that the remaining glaciers might be gone by the end of the decade.

“When we’re measuring glacier margins, by the time we go home, the glacier is already smaller than what we’ve measured,” Fagre said.

From the Himalayas to Alaska, glacier melting has accelerated in recent decades as global temperatures have increased. The melt shows the climate is changing but does not show exactly what is causing temperatures to go up, Fagre said.

The park’s glaciers have been slowly melting since about 1850, when the centuries-long Little Ice Age ended. They once numbered as many as 150, and 37 of those glaciers eventually were named.

One comment

  1. For those who like graphs, here is one that shows average glacier length (relative to 1950). The average increased from 1700 until the end of the Little Ice Age and has been declining since about 1800.

    The 1950-2000 decline is matched by that from 1900 to 1950. The 1850-1900 decline was actually greater.


    From J. Oerlemans:
    Extracting a Climate Signal from 169 Glacier Records

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