Glaciers: See Them Before They’re Gone

Apr 27, 2022 | Climate Change, Daily Space, Earth

IMAGE: Glaciers atop Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains. Climate change poses a heightened risk to these relatively low-elevation glaciers, as highlighted by a new study in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface. CREDIT: Kentaro Toma/Unsplash

If you haven’t been to Washington State’s Olympic Park to see the glaciers, go now. According to a new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, led by Andrew Fountain, the 255 glaciers and perennial snowfields of the Olympic Mountains had half the amount of snow and ice coverage they had in 1900. Since just 1980, 35 glaciers and sixteen perennial snowfields have disappeared. To quote the paper’s abstract: With warmer summers causing more ice melt and warmer winters causing less snowfall, the glaciers are being hammered in both seasons.

Based on the trends they have studied in those 115 years of historical data, it is expected that by 2070, there will no longer be any glaciers in the Olympic Mountains.

Beyond just showing how much we can change our landscape visually, these changes also affect the ability of the flora and fauna of the region to survive, and with no future seasonal glacial runoff, the landscape downstream will change as downstream simply becomes downhill… with no more stream.

More Information

AGU press release

Glaciers of the Olympic Mountains, Washington—The Past and Future 100 Years,” Andrew G. Fountain et al., 2022 April 19, JGR Earth Surface


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