One Montana Glacier Has Lost 85% Of Its Mass In Just 50 Years!

One Montana Glacier Has Lost 85% Of Its Mass In Just 50 Years!

National Parks

One Montana Glacier Has Lost 85% Of Its Mass In Just 50 Years!

The Grinnell Glacier in 2012 | Photo: Mountain walrus | Cover photo: Tobias Klenze

In the next half century, Glacier National Park might need to consider a rebranding effort once its namesake glaciers have disappeared from the otherwise idyllic Montana landscape.

Related: President Obama – Climate Change ‘Could Mean No More Glaciers In Glacier National Park’

According to a recent study completed by the United States Geological Survey, The glaciers in Montana’s Glacier National Park have undergone massive recession since 1966 and the photos are as disturbing as they are jaw dropping.

Aerial photography shows how one of the 37 glaciers observed has receded by a total of 85% in the past half century alone.

USGS scientist, Lisa McKeon emphasized the importance of the findings saying, “tracking these small alpine glaciers has been instrumental in describing climate change effects on Glacier National Park to park management and the public.”

This image shows the perimeter of Chaney Glacier in Glacier National Park in 1966, 1998, 2005, and 2015 | Photo: USGS

Together, the 37 glaciers observed in the study have receded by 39% on average.

“The park-wide loss of ice can have ecological effects on aquatic species by changing stream water volume, water temperature and run-off timing in the higher elevations of the park” – Dr. Daniel Fagre, USGS

Any further recession could negatively impact alpine aquatic environments and the species that call such habitats home. Hopefully we can help slow down this recession by limiting carbon emissions in the coming decade along with becoming better stewards of this planet we call home.

This image shows the perimeter of Sperry Glacier in Glacier National Park in 1966,1998, 2005, and 2015 | Photo: USGS

These findings are just a small portion of a larger effort to track climate change in North America and its impact on high alpine environments. We will update this story when USGS officials release their comprehensive study.

Find the entire USGS study here: Glaciers Rapidly Shrinking and Disappearing: 50 Years of Glacier Change in Montana

 

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