If you didn’t catch this weekend’s article on Glacier National Park in The New York Times, it’s worth a read, especially for anyone concerned about the rapidly diminishing glaciers that are these park’s namesake.
The day before, I had spoken with Daniel Fagre, who coordinates climate change and glacial geology studies here for the United States Geological Survey. He is a 20-year veteran of research at the park. The retreat of the glaciers began around 1850, he said, as part of a slow, natural climatic variation, but the disappearing act has accelerated during the last hundred years. Until recently, his research projected that, as global warming hit its stride, the park’s glaciers would all be gone by the year 2030. Now he thinks it may be as soon as 2020.
Outsize snows this past winter, which kept many park roads and trails closed well into July, could briefly forestall the meltdown, but the longer warming trend is inexorable, he said.
No reprieve? “No, I think we are continuing on that path,” he said.
The science is preliminary, but it’s clear that this loss will be more than aesthetic for the park’s ecosystem, he said. Those glacial reservoirs provide a steady supply of cool meltwater through hot summers and dry spells, helping to sustain a constellation of plants and animals, some rare — big-horned sheep, elk and mountain goats among them.
The NYT put together a killer slideshow too – such a gorgeous place.
Image: The New York Times