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Pictures of Retreating Glaciers: A Century of Melting
Glacial Melt in 33 Years
Glacier National Park...Isn't
When I visited Glacier/Jasper National Park in the 90s with my Dad, he was shocked when we visited Athabasca Glacier on the Canadian side. "Where did it go?" he asked.
The Athabasca Glacier had retreated significantly since he had visited it in the 50s, when its toe was about here (see marker). I haven't been back since, but I've seen photos of it lately that shocked me — it's retreated significantly since I was there. (This 2009 photo shows it: I was there in 1993).
We hear about isolated cases of glaciers melting, but for me, what's really impressive is seeing it.
So here are some photos. It's a limited selection, because I have to stick to photos that their photographers have given permission to use.
Click photos for larger-sized views.
Be sure to watch the timelapse photography video at the end! James Balrog is an amazing nature photographer whose work I've followed for years. It's worth listening to his talk, too, or just fast forward to the timelapse photography.
My own feelings about all this? Personally, I hope the majority of climate scientists are right and these changes are manmade. Because if they're natural, and there's no way to reverse this trend, our grandchildren are going to have problems.
The Matterhorn, Switzerland, 1960-2005
Chart of Arctic Ice Melt
In the past 30 years, the North Pole's ice cap has been melting more and more each summer, and covering less area during the winter. See this chart of sea ice extent showing year-to-year and month-to-month Arctic ice coverage.
From Arctic Sea Ice Monitoring by the Japanse Space Agency (they've been tracking sea ice with wearther satellites for several decades.)
Melting Alaska Glaciers
McCarty Glacier retreated about 20 km (15.5 miles) between these two photos. After it melted away from the tidewater fjord that was calving its leading edge, its retreat mostly paused for a while in the sixties and even reversed a little during the colder 70s. However, since 1984, its retreat has resumed.
McCarty Glacier Retreat 1909-2006
Photos: Retreat of Muir Glacier, Alaska
Average Annual Temperatures (blue = below average, orange=above average) 1880-2012
Glacier and Jasper National Parks
Glacier and Jasper National Parks straddle the U.S.-Canada border between Montana and Alberta.
In 1850 and 1909 surveys of Glacier National Park, it had about 150 glaciers, whereas a 2010 survey found only 25 glaciers. As you can see, those that are left aren't what they were.
I'm afraid that within our lifetime, we may have to go to the Alberta side to see any glaciers!
Boulder Glacier Melting over 56 Years in Glacier National Park
Photos: Melting of Grinnell Glacier, Glacier National Park
Melting Andean Glaciers May Cause Water Supply Headaches
Many South American countries depend on glaciers in the Andes Mountains for water supplies plus hydroelectric power.
Peru is particularly dependent on this freshwater source. Unfortunately, the amount of runoff from Peru's melting glaciers is beginning to drop as the total volume of ice shrinks. Peru's government is trying to adapt.
Below: Geologist Lonnie Thompson, who has been visiting Quori Kalis Glacier for years, believes it will be gone in the next decade. In 2004, he said, "In our first 15 years of observation, it was retreating at a rate of 6 meters per year, and in the last 15 years, it's been averaging 60 meters per year."
Andean Glacier in Peru Melting: 26 Years Later
Greenland's Glaciers Speeding Up
Greenland's glaciers are speeding up, with meltwater on top draining rapidly through moulins (subglacial conduits), and the slightly warmer ocean undercutting and sawing off the leading edges so that they flow ever faster.
Here's an article on the Jakobshavn Glacier's acceleration and melting, including the July 2010 calving event captured below in a satellite photo.
Retreating Greenland Glacier: Four year retreat
Photos: 1 mile chunk falls off Jakobshavn Glacier, Greenland
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
I've always had a soft spot for Mt. Kilimanjaro: a beautiful volcanic peak (I love volcanoes) with its crest covered by tropical glaciers. There's isolated glaciers like this around the world, and they seem to be the ones that are going first.
If Kilimanjaro's ice cap keeps melting at the current rate, it should be gone by the 2030s. I guess we'll have to stay tuned!
Mt. Kilimanjaro, 17 Years of Glacial Melting
Extreme Ice Survey: Fantastic TED Talk with Timelapse Photos
- Richard Muller, Koch brothers-funded scientist, declares global warming is real
Richard Muller, a physicist and climate skeptic who spent two years trying to see if mainstream climate scientists were wrong about the earth's climate changes, determined that they were right.
- BBC News - Warm ocean driving Antarctic ice loss
Most of the ice being lost from Antarctica is going as a result of warm water eating the fringes of the continent, a new study confirms.
- Himalayan glaciers melting more slowly than thought, but seas still rising
Christian Science Monitor: A study of satellite data has found that ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica account for most of the planet's rising sea levels, with melting glaciers from the Himalayas contributing less than previously thought.
- Table of Glacial ice loss and gain in latest 2003-2010 glacial ice study
Data from first comprehensive satellite study of world's glaciers shows gains and losses of ice in different regions. [Total ice loss worldwide, NOT counting Antarctica: ~1000 cubic miles 1993-2010].
- Will Climate Change Affect Groundwater in the Central and West Coast of the US?
California's Chief Hydrogeologist discusses the effect of climate change on Los Angeles' groundwater supply, plus the latest warming data.
- Melting Glaciers Liberate Ancient Microbes: Scientific American
The release of life-forms in cold storage for eons could change the oceans' ecosystems and cause bacteria blooms that gobble up oxygen.
- A Sherpa's View of Melting Himalayan Glaciers: Scientific American
One of Sir Edmund Hillary's guides talks about what he's seen, but blames the melting of the Himalayan glaciers on tourists trampling sacred ground and angering the gods.