Victims of Climate Change: Western Canada’s Glaciers Will Soon be Things of the Past, Scientists

In April 6, a research was published in the journal Nature Geoscience stating that by the year 2100, 90 percent of the spectacular mountain glaciers may die out in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and British Columbia. More than 1 million visitors came to see this region every year, including the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park. Rocky Mountain glaciers also provide meltwater to the Columbia River, which flows through Canada and the United States.For the study, scientists devised a new computer model that predicts how glaciers will respond to future climate change. Glaciers are melting rapidly around the world.  The glaciers of western Canada are melting faster than predicted, and will probably be out gone by the end of the century.

“Over the next century, there is going to be a huge loss,” said lead study author Garry Clarke, a glaciologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “The glaciers are telling us that we’re changing the climate.”

The high mountains of northwestern British Columbia will fare better when glaciers are in the wetter. These glaciers will keep about 50 percent of their volume by the century’s end by shrinking back into the high-elevation mountains.

A Switzerland climate scientist, Andreas Vieli of the University of Zurich, wrote that the study improves compare to the previous predictions of glacial ice loss, which was published in Nature Geoscience.

Clarke and his colleagues created a method that can be applied to glaciers to other regions in the world through a computer model that simulates how each individual glacier is likely to flow and change shape as it melts.

Studies show that in the past four decades, glaciers in the Andes have lost 30 to 50 percent of their surface area.

Parts of the Himalayas are rapidly losing glacial ice, though some regions are gaining it. Researchers said, in Alberta and British Columbia, more than 17,000 glaciers are covering more area than the ice-covered Himalayas. (The ice accounts for 10,308 square miles, or 26,700 square kilometers.)

Glacial meltdown in Canada is already exposing ancient archaeological treasures, such as caribou hunting grounds with artifacts left behind by Aboriginal peoples. In summer, in order to escape mosquitoes, caribou seek out persistent snow patches. Clarke said, scientists are expecting for these caribou hunting sites as they melt out.




  1. Gordon Jenkins says

    Barnes Ice Cap. Laurentide Ice Sheet. Barnes Ice Cap since 2009? Data on Barnes Ice Cap since 2009? Where is the data?

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