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There Was Shrinkage!


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I got back from a repeat of the Ptarmigan after 19 years and it is pretty amazing the glacial recession in that time (2003 was a lean snow year and 2022 phat as well).  Here are a couple examples:

LeConte in 2003:


LeConte in 2022:


Chickamin Glacier in 2003:


Chickamin Gl in 2022:


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 I thought I read somewhere that the Blue Glacier was the only one growing or staying the same size. That was a while ago and not sure if that was true. The page here suggests that was not accurate at all.

These photos are crazy and make me wish I could get into a time machine so as to see them in 1900.


I guess I was lucky to see the Anderson glacier in the 80s, though it was so small then that we didn't think anything of it.


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24 minutes ago, dberdinka said:

Thinning greater than surface area reduction?

Good eye @dberdinka! At home, with careful looking, that really jumped out at me.  These glacier have thinned dramatically in the last 19 years, as well as retreated.  You may not be wrong about them evaporating one day in the not too distant future.

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Pretty depressing to see the glacial recession in just the last two decades.  


I was listening to an endurance sport podcast this morning and the runner being interviewed was talking about traveling to Bhutan to participate in an ultra intended to increase climate change awareness.  I'm not sure how people justify an International flight to raise climate change awareness, can you purchase a carbon offset or something?  Sounds like a scenario from Idiocracy.  


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It's easy to look at glacier images and think area is what counts, but as @dberdinka points out thinning is super important, and often a more reliable indicator. The total mass/volume of a glacier is probably the best measure of its size, so both thickness and coverage area are important. As glaciers melt away area and thickness will change. This may be most obvious at the terminus, but the glacier can be much smaller even if the terminus hasn't shifted much. Seasonal snow variations and melt patterns can make it hard to see the size of the glacier, so it's important to keep that in mind - focus on the ice portions to see the true differences.

This past week I finally got to the Bailey traverse in the Olympics, which we did Hoh TH to Hoh TH counter-clockwise. Spectacular. We crossed three glaciers. We did not rope up on either the Blue or Humes glaciers because they are quite thin and crevasses are small and obvious. We did rope up on the Hoh glacier, though even that seemed optional. 

Hope to get out on other glaciers this summer if I can get the time.




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