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You are browsing the archive for glacier mass balance Archives - AGU Blogosphere.

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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9 April 2020

Rainbow Glacier Fieldwork 8-7-2018

The video is of a single day of field work on Rainbow Glacier on 8-7-2018.  This was our 702nd day of fieldwork during the project that began in 1984.  On this day the field team consisted of Mariama Dryak, Erin McConnell, Jill Pelto and Mauri Pelto. Rainbow Glacier is a valley glacier on the northeast flank of Mount Baker, a stratovolcano and the highest mountain in the North Cascade Range, …

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29 July 2019

36th Annual North Cascade Glacier Climate Project Field Season Begins

Fieldwork includes terminus surveys, glacier runoff measurement and mass balance measurements Field Season Begins August 1 Who we are? The North Cascade Glacier Climate Project (NCGCP) was founded in 1983 to identify the response of North Cascade glaciers to regional climate change, particularly changes in mass balance, glacier runoff and terminus behavior.   This was prompted by the  National Academy of Sciences listing this as a high priority and a personal …

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20 August 2018

35th Annual Field Season Monitoring North Cascade Glaciers Preliminary Assessment

We monitor the response of North Cascade glacier to climate change and the consequent impacts for water resources and the ecosystem, as illustrated here by Megan Pelto and Jill Pelto. For the 35th consecutive year I headed to the North Cascade Range, Washington to monitor the response of glaciers to climate change. During the course of this study we  observed several of the glaciers we monitor disappear.  Two of the …

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1 August 2018

Alpine Glacier-BAMS State of the Climate 2017

Global alpine glacier annual mass balance record of reference glaciers submitted to the World Glacier Monitoring Service, with 2017 continuing the trend of significant negative mass balance.  The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society: State of the Climate 2017 has been published.  Since 2008 I have written the chapter on alpine glaciers. The World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS)record of mass balance and terminus behavior (WGMS 2017) provides a global index …

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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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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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28 December 2016

Canadian Columbia Basin Glacier Fall 2016 Field Season

Guest Post by Ben Pelto, PhD Candidate, UNBC Geography, [email protected] Figure 1. An illustration of the glacier mass balance sum. Mass balance is equal to the amount of snow accumulation and the amount of ice melt over time. Traditionally, this is reported as annual mass balance (how much mass a glacier gained or lost in a particular year) and is reported in meters water equivalent (mwe). The Columbia Basin Glacier …

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14 October 2016

2016 Field Season Results-North Cascade Glacier Climate Project

For Mount Baker, Washington the freezing level from January-April 20 was not as high as the record from 2015, but still was 400 m above the long term mean. April 1 snowpack at the key long term sites in the North Cascades was 8% above average. A warm spring altered this, with April being the warmest on record. The three-four weeks ahead of normal on June 10th, but three weeks …

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8 September 2016

World Glacier Monitoring Service 30th Anniversary

The numbers on the left y-axis depict quantities of glacial mass loss from the WGMS and sea level rise, and the suns across the horizon contain numbers that represent the global increase in temperature, coinciding with the timeline on the lower x-axis From Jill Pelto The World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) celebrated 30 years of achievement last week. I have had the privilege of being the United States representative to the …

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20 August 2015

Disastrous Year for North Cascade Glacier Mass Balance (Snow/Ice Economy)

  Mass loss of North Cascade glaciers visualized. A disastrous year is unfolding in 2015 for North Cascade glaciers, if normal melt conditions continue the range will lose 5-7% of its entire glacier volume in one year! For the 32nd consecutive year we were in the North Cascade Range, of Washington to observe the mass balance of glaciers across the entire mountain range. The melt season is not over, but …

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23 April 2015

Sholes Glacier, Washington: Measuring Annual Glacier Mass Balance

Annual mass balance is the difference between ice and snow added to the glacier via accumulation and snow and ice lost via ablation and in some cases calving. Alpine glacier mass balance is the most accurate indicator of glacier response to climate and along with the worldwide retreat of alpine glaciers is one of the clearest signals of ongoing climate change (WGMS,2010). For 25 consecutive years we (North Cascade Glacier Climate …

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7 April 2015

31 years of observations on Retreating Columbia Glacier, Washington

For the last 31 years the first week of August has found me on the Columbia Glacier in the North Cascades of Washington. Annual pictures of the changing conditions from 1984 to 2014 are illustrated in the time lapse video below. This is the lowest elevation large glacier in the North Cascades. Columbia Glacier occupies a deep cirque above Blanca Lake and ranging in altitude from 1400 meters to 1700 …

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3 August 2014

2014 North Cascade Glacier Field Season, 31st consecutive year.

This is the 31st consecutive field season for the North Cascade Glacier Climate Project. This project begun in 1984 monitors the response of North Cascade glaciers to climate change and monitors the mass balance of more glaciers than any other program in North America. This entails measuring mass balance, terminus position, surface elevation changes and glacier runoff. This is done with a combination of field measurements and satellite imagery. The …

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20 February 2014

Pacific Northwest Glacier Mass Balance 2013

North Cascades Climate Conditions: The 2013 winter accumulation season featured 93% of mean (1984-2013) winter snow accumulation at the long term USDA Snotel stations in the North Cascades, Washington (Figure 1). The melt season was exceptional by several measures. The mean summer temperature from June-September and July-September at Lyman Lake is tied with the highest for the 1989-2013 period (Figure 2). The average minimum temperature at Lyman Lake was the …

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5 December 2013

Building a 30-year Glacier Mass Balance Time Series

The above video looks at the effort behind a long term field study, looking at images from 11 of the 30 years of our research, digital cameras became good then. Long term monitoring programs have until recently been unattractive for federal grantmakers, since they are not directly advancing the frontiers of science. However, many long duration time series from monitoring programs do advance science eventually as the response to changes …

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6 July 2013

Mittivakkat, Greenland and Lemon Creek Glacier, Alaska transient snowline paper

Mernild et al (2013) is a new paper that has authors from several countries that I am co-author on with Knudsen, Malmros in Denmark, Hanna from UK, Yde currently in Norway and Mernild in Chile. The key items here are using the snow line observed on any particular melt season day (transient snowline=TSL) as input for mass balance assessment. This paper examines how similar the migration of the TSL is …

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1 December 2011

Mass balance 2011 North Cascades, Washington and Juneau Icefield, Alaska

In the summer of 2011, the North Cascade Glacier Climate Project completed 430 measurements of snowpack on 10 glaciers using probing and crevasse stratigraphy. This is much less than our normal number because of the exceptionally deep snowpack. The probe we use was 5 meters long, beyond that only crevasses could be used. The mass balance was quite positive for the first time since 2002. The combination of a La …

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