September 4, 2009

26th Annual North Cascade Glacier Climate Project 2009 Field Season

Posted by Mauri Pelto

This video examines the 2009 North Cascade Glacier Climate Project Field Season. It is a look more at where we work, than what we find. Mass balances were substantial averaging -1.93 m. The winter season was wetter than average, with close to average snowpack in the North Cascades. Summer melt conditions were exceptionally warm, leading to enhanced melting and considerable losses in glacier volume. The mass loss of approximately 2 meters represents about 4% of total glacier volume, gone in one year. In July ablation averaged 8.5 cm per day. For glaciers that average 50-60 m in thickness that is the loss of 2.5 m in one month. Most of the melt was snowpack from the previous winter. However, by mid-August blue ice was exposed on the majority of the glacier surfaces across the North Cascades and any ablation was a loss in long term glacier volume. In the case of Columbia Glacier at the end of August a view of its surface indicates only a few white patches of snow remaining. Glacier retreat was slowed on Rainbow and Ice Worm glaciers where the terminus was buried under avalanche snow. Retreat of Easton Glacier was 20 m, Lower Curtis Glacier 11m, Daniels Glacier 12 m, Lynch Glacier 8 m. All 42 glacier observed retreated in 2009. Easton Glacier developed a new rock outcrop in the midst of the glacier. More details on this project North Cascade Glacier Climate Project