August 3, 2014

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

Posted by Mauri Pelto

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 unique aspect is we use no helicopter or outside support, everything is backpacked in by us. This summer our main focus will be continued work with the Nooksack Indian Tribe particularly Oliver Grah and Jezra Beaulieu, who have worked with us in 2012 and 2013. We are quantifying the role of glacier runoff on conditions for salmon in the Nooksack River. The critical aspect of this is underscored by our findings on the impact on stream discharge and temperature. Our utilization of satellite imagery and ground truth measurements caught the attention of NASA last summer. We will continue our annual mass balance survey of 10 glaciers, terminus survey of which ever glaciers have exposed termini, mountain goat survey on Ptarmigan Ridge and ice worm survey on Sholes Glacier. What we do is march around each glacier and measure the snow accumulation, ablation, survey the terminus and elevations across the glacier, then head back to our tents for the night.  We will look to again combine our field data with Landsat 8 imagery.

Selected Posts on the glaciers we will be observing.  There will be no new posts for three weeks during the field season.

Columbia Glacier, Washington**********************Deming Glacier, Washington
Lower Curtis Glacier Annual Survey, Washington*****Easton Glacier Assessment, Washington
Mount Baker Mass balance, Washington**********Ptarmigan Ridge Glacier, Washington
Rainbow Glacier, Washington********************Daniels Glacier, Washington
Nooksack Basin********************************Mount Baker Glacier Mass Balance

The snowpack on June 1 was quite normal at glacier elevations in the North Cascades. The peak mean snow depth is typically on May 10th, but this year it was May 3rd. An El Nino is forecast to begin during the fall, though the forecast is not robust. This typically leads to warm conditions in the North Cascades. June and July have been warm and dry leading to forest fires east of the Cascade Crest, snow levels have dropped below normal by July 1, and a warm July had led to more exposed ice on the glaciers than usual. The field crew for 2014 consists of scientists and visual artists. The value of the scientific data from this program, the most extensive in monitoring glaciers in the United States continues to increase as the time series extends. It is equally evident that the data does not speak for itself to most people. This year we will have an additional focus on production of video and illustrative art that tells the story of glacier change in a different fashion. The goal will be to weave the four threads of science, nature, video and illustrations into the most compelling narrative we have produced.

Mauri Pelto:
The director of the project for 31 years and also the US representative for the World Glacier Monitoring Service. This includes more than 600 nights in a tent in the North Cascades measuring glaciers.

Ben Pelto
Ben has finished his MS at UMASS-Amherst in geosciences and will be heading to University of Northern British Columbia in the fall for a doctoral program. This will be his tenth year working in the North Cascades. He has also worked on glaciers at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and has taken part in scientific drilling voyage on the USCGC Healey in the Arctic Ocean.

Jillian Pelto:
Jill is a senior double major in Earth Sciences and Art at UMaine. She will be spending her sixth year in the field on North Cascade glaciers. This year she also worked in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica with a research team from the University of Maine and UC-Davis.

Ashley Edwards:
Is a senior in geology at Central Washington University, and has worked as an Aquatic Ecologist in Alaska. Most importantly is an avid skier.

Justin Wright Is a senior at Oregon State University. He has worked as a web developer before getting smart and going into the earth sciences. He has worked and climbed on Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams.

Tom Hammond
Has spent portions of 11 field season with us. And visits one of our glaciers at the end of each melt season. He is Vice President of the North Cascades Conservation Council. He is also Project Manager at the University of Washington in the Information Technology and Services area.
Tom was in the Cascades for a spring avalanche assessment and has a report on it at NCCC

Visual Crew consists of

Melanie Gajewski, Videographer
Melanie has just graduated with a degree in business at Nichols College and is enrolled in the MBA program. At Nichols College she directed most of the TV commercials used by the college in the last two years. Her aim is to be a videographer specializing in Environmental Awareness issues. She is an avid hiker, this is a first trip to glaciers.
[vimeo 84647768 w=500 h=281]

Welcome to Visual – Melanie Gajewski from Visual Communications on Vimeo.

Megan Pelto, Illustrator:

Megan is a senior in the Illustration program at Savannah College of Art and Design. She has an extensive camping background, but this will be a first visiting the glaciers.

Jillian Pelto, Painting and Printing: I a senior Art major at University of Maine.

Hike into Easton Glacier
Survey Easton Glacier terminus and Lower Bench
Survey Upper Easton Glacier
Hike out Easton Glacier-Hike in Heliotrope
Heliotrope Glacier survey
Hike Out Heliotrope- Hike in Rainbow Glacier
Sholes Glacier Survey
Rainbow Glacier Survey
Hike out Rainbow Glacier-Hike in Lower Curtis Glacier
Lower Curtis Glacier Survey
Hike out Lower Curtis Glacier; Hike in Columbia Glacier
Columbia Glacier survey
Hike out Columbia Glacier
Hike in Mount Daniels
Ice Worm Glacier Survey
Mount Daniels Survey
Lynch Glacier Survey
Hike out Mount Daniels