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31 August 2022

Alpine Glaciers Section-State of the Climate 2021

The 32nd annual State of the Climate report was published today. For the 14th year I have written the Alpine Glacier section chronicling their response for the the hydrological 2020/21 utilizing the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) data sets. WGMS reference glaciers (30+ years of continuous observation) experienced a mass balance loss of -900 mm w.e., compared to -700 mm w.e. in 2019/20. From 1970-2021 the eight most negative mass …

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5 May 2022

Alpine Glacier Incompatibality with Heat Waves

Heat waves and glaciers don’t usually go together; however, in the last several years an increasing number of heat waves have affected alpine glacier regions around the world.  This is true from Arctic Canada to the Himalayas from the Andes to Alaska. Here we review a number of these heat waves from 2018-2022, that I have been involved with assessing and observing. In particular heat waves leave a greater portion …

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18 April 2022

A 50-year Project on Columbia Glacier Annual Monitoring 1984-2022, 39 Years In

1984-Landsat 5 is launched. The North Cascade Glacier Climate Project was initiated on Earth Day in 1984 with a goal of observing the impact of climate change on glaciers across this mountain range for 50 years. This was in response to a call to action by the National Academy of Sciences to have a project that monitored glaciers across an entire mountain range in the United States, and from climate …

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11 February 2022

Firn Area Ratio an Emerging Metric for Glacier Mass Balance?

Columbia Glacier in 2015 viewed from the ridge above the glacier. The firn line is marked by blue dots. The age of the snow surface of 2015 and the firn surfaces of 2011-2014 are noted. For an alpine glacier to be in equilibrium at the end of summer the glacier needs to be 50-70% covered in snow from the previous winter. This is the accumulation area ratio (AAR). AAR is …

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28 September 2021

Kokanee Glacier 2021: slash and burn

By Ben Pelto, PhD, UBC Mitacs Elevate Postdoctoral Research Fellow Since 2013 I have been working on the Kokanee Glacier. Located just outside of Nelson in southeastern British Columbia (BC), the Kokanee Glacier is due north of the Washington-Idaho border. This work began as part of a five-year study of the cryosphere in the Canadian portion of the Columbia River. This project was carried out by the Canadian Columbia River …

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31 August 2020

North Cascade Glacier Climate Project Observations 2020, 37th Field Season

The North Cascade Glacier Climate Project 2020 field season was our 37th consecutive year of glacier observations.  The field team consisted of Cal Waichler, Mariama Dryak, Jill Pelto and Mauri Pelto.  Each team member has studied glaciers on more than one continent and is passionate about science communication, using either art, videography or writing. Mauri Pelto, Jill Pelto, Cal Waichler and Mariama Dryak from left to right on Easton Glacier …

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2 July 2020

Global Glacier Change Bulletin 3 (WGMS) Reports Increasing Mass Balance Losses

Figure 1. Regionalized mean annual mass balance of WGMS reference glaciers 1980-2018, with 2019 being a mean of reference glaciers. Glaciers have been studied as sensitive indicators of climate for more than a century and are now experiencing a historically unprecedented decline (Zemp et al, 2015).  Glacier fluctuations in terminus position, mass balance and area are recognized as one of the most reliable indicators of climate change. This led to …

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12 September 2019

Glacier Crevasses As A learning Tool

Guest Post by Clara Deck Instagram: @scienceisntsoscary   Crevasses on mountain glaciers are large cracks in the ice which often propagate from the surface downward. The initial break will happen when stress exceeds the inherent ice material strength. This article will focus on surface crevasses, though this basic physical understanding also applies to basal crevasses or large-scale rifts in ice sheet and shelf settings.   In mountain glacier systems, crevassing …

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13 December 2018

AGU Poster Hall-Cryosphere Perspectives

The American Geophysical Union Fall meeting’s Cryosphere section continues to grow as seen in the Poster hall.  The poster hall is where most of the research is presented and is dominated by student work.  Here are some examples of this work. Erin McConnell, UMaine and others examined shallow ice cores from glaciers in the St. Elias Mountains of Canada’s Yukon as part of a project to reconstruct past climate variability …

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19 November 2018

35th Annual Field Observations of North Cascade Glaciers

The 2018 field season observations, conditions and summary. Field team Mariama Dryak, Erin McConnell, Jill Pelto and Mauri Pelto. For the 35th consecutive year I headed to the North Cascade Range, Washington to monitor the response of glaciers to climate change.  Two of the glaciers the North Cascade Glacier Climate Project (NCGCP) monitors are now part of the 42 glaciers comprising the World Glacier Monitoring Service  (WGMS) reference glacier network, …

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6 March 2018

Rio Engaño, Chile Headwater Glacier Retreat GLOF Threat Drops

Comparison of glaciers at the headwaters of Rio Engaño in 1984 and 2018 Landsat images. The 1984 terminus location with red arrows, yellow arrows the 2018 terminus location, purple arrows wind drift patterns. Rio Engaño drains into Lago General Carrera and its headwaters is a group of alpine glaciers.  In March of 1977 one of the glaciers, generated a glacier lake outburst flood (GLOF) that reached a depth of 1.5 m  at the …

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15 February 2018

Gora Gvandra Glaciers, Caucasus Mountains, No Accumulation Zone in 2017

Comparison of glaciers around Gora Gvandra, Caucasus Mountians in 1985 and 2017 Landsat images.  G=Gvandra Glacier, D=Dalar galcier, DN =North Dalari Glacier, S=Sakeni Glacier and M=Morde Glacier.  Gora Gvandra Mountain is southwest of Mount Elbrus of the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia and is surrounded by a group of glaciers that in recent years have not exhibited an accumulation zone.  Stokes et al (2006) note that 94% of Caucasus Mountain glaciers retreated …

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14 December 2017

From a Glaciologists Perspective AGU Day 3

Snapshot of day 3  of Glaciology poster presentations at AGU.  The amount of glaciology research is impressive, there is much we do not know.  We can no longer say that we know very little about any aspect or region.  Before saying that explore the vast literature that is now available. Jeff La Freniere at Gustavus Adolphus College used several new technologies,  aerial and terrestrial LIDAR and structure-from-motion photogrammetry from drones …

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14 August 2017

Canadian Columbia River Basin Winter 2016-2017: A Late Rally

Guest Post by Ben Pelto, PhD Candidate, UNBC Geography, [email protected] As the summer ticks by and the fall glacier field season approaches, I’ve realized that I never put out a winter 2016-2017 synopsis, so, like the snowfall this year, it’s arrived late. May 2017, Jesse Milner of the ACMG on the Nordic Glacier in front of the “meteor strike” a newly exposed rock face that spalls ice regularly. Photo by …

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27 June 2017

Mensu Glacier, Siberia Russia Retreat 1994-2016

Mensu Glacier, Russia in comparison of 1994 and 2016 Landsat images.  Red arrow is the 1994 terminus, yellow arrow 2016 terminus, purple arrow a tributary and purple dots the snowline.  Mensu Glacier (Lednik Mensu) drains northeast from Gora Belukha in the Russian Altai.  The glacier drains into the Ob River and then the Arctic Ocean.  This glacier has not been the focus of detailed research to date. Khromova et al (2014) report …

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5 June 2017

Llewellyn Glacier, BC Proglacial Lake Merging From Retreat

Llewellyn Glacier comparison in 1984 Landsat and 2016 Sentinel images.  Red arrows the 1984 terminus locations for proglacial lakes A-D, yellow arrows the 2016 terminus locations for A and B. Point E was the peninsula separating proglacial lakes A and B, which are now joined due to glacier retreat.  The second largest glacier of the Juneau Icefield is the Llewellyn Glacier which is in British Columbia. The Juneau Icefield Research …

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27 February 2017

A River Runs 40 km Across the Greenland Ice Sheet

Supraglacial stream, on July 26, 2016 Landsat image, stretching 40 km across the ice sheet from the transient snowline, which marks the boundary between the percolation zone and the wet snow zone,  west toward the ice sheet margin, note black arrows.   The Greenland Ice Sheet has experienced a significant increase in surface melt.  This is due both to warmer temperatures and enhanced melt due to a reduction in reflectivity-albedo. The expansion …

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17 February 2017

State of Alpine Glaciers in 2016-Negative for 37th Consecutive Year

Figure 1. Global Alpine glacier annual mass balance record of reference glaciers submitted to the World Glacier Monitoring Service. Each year I write the section of the BAMS State of the Climate on Alpine Glaciers.  What follows is the initial draft of that with a couple of added images and an added paragraph. The World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) record of mass balance and terminus behavior (WGMS, 2015) provides a …

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12 January 2017

Recent Climate Change Impacts on Mountain Glaciers – Volume

Landsat Image of glaciers examined in the Himalaya Range: Chapter 10 that straddles a portion of Sikkim, Nepal and Tibet, China. Notice the number that end in expanding proglacial lakes.  This January a book I authored has been published by Wiley. The goal of this volume is to tell the story, glacier by glacier, of response to climate change from 1984-2015. Of the 165 glaciers examined in 10 different alpine …

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4 January 2017

Gangotri Glacier Expanded Melt Season & Melt Area in 2016

Purple dots indicate the transient snowline on Gangotri Glacier in the fall and early winter of 2016. Red arrow indicates the terminus of the glacier. The Gangotri Glacier is the largest glacier in the Bhagirathi River watershed, situated in the Uttarkashi District, India. It is one of the larger glaciers in the Himalaya, and like all of the nearby Himalayan glaciers is retreating significantly. Gangotri Glacier provides hydropower as its …

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