July 31, 2016

Thirty-third Annual North Cascade Glacier Climate Project Field Season Underway

Posted by Mauri Pelto

Base Map of the region showing main study glaciers, produced by Ben Pelto.

From President Reagan to President Obama each August since 1984 I have headed to the North Cascade Range of Washington to measure the response of glaciers to climate change.  Specifically we will measure the mass balance of nine glaciers, runoff from three glaciers and map the terminus change on 12 glaciers. The data is reported to the World Glacier Monitoring Service.  Three glaciers that we have monitored annually have disappeared since 1984.

In 2016 for Mount Baker, Washington the freezing level from January-April was not as high as the record from 2015, but still was 400 m above the long term mean. The snowpack on June 1st was three weeks behind last year’s record melt, but still three to four weeks of head of normal. July has been exceptionally cool reducing this gap. With all the snow measurement stations losing snowcover by July 1, the gap is uncertain until we arrive on the glaciers. This will not be a good year, but will be a significant improvement over last year, likely more in the 2012 or 2013 category.  Each location is accessed by backpacking in and camping in tents.

We will first travel north to Mount Baker and the Easton Glacier, we will be joined by Oliver Lazenby, Point Roberts Press.  We will then circle to the north side where I expect we will be joined by Jezra Beaulieu and Oliver Grah, Nooksack Indian Tribe.  Jen Lennon from the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe and Pete Durr, Mount Baker Ski Patrol are also planning to join us here.   When we head into Columbia Glacier Taryn Black from U of Washington will join us. The field team consists of Mauri Pelto, 33rd year, Jill Pelto, UMaine for the 8th year, Megan Pelto, 2nd year, and Andrew Hollyday, Middlebury College.  Tom Hammond, 13th year will join us for a selected period.

Backpacking to camp

Backpacking to camp
Picture 6 of 6

Aug.   1:  Hike into Easton Glacier.
Aug.   2:  Easton Glacier
Aug.   3:  Easton Glacier
Aug.   4:  Hike Out Easton Glacier, Hike in Ptarmigan Ridge
Aug.   5:  Sholes Glacier
Aug.   6:  Rainbow Glacier
Aug.   7:  Sholes Glacier and/or Rainbow Glacier
Aug.   8:  Hike out and into Lower Curtis Glacier
Aug.   9:  Lower Curtis Glacier
Aug. 10: Hike out Lower Curtis Glacier- Hike in Blanca Lake Mail Pickup Maple Falls, WA 98266
Aug. 11:  Hike in Columbia Glacier
Aug. 12:  Columbia Glacier
Aug. 13:  Hike out Columbia Glacier; Hike in Mount Daniels
Aug. 14:  Daniels and Lynch Glacier
Aug. 15:  Ice Worm Glacier
Aug. 16:  Ice Worm Glacier, Hike out Mount Daniels-Hike out