Edit (9/27/17): Since publishing this blog, the Washington Post reported the calving (or splitting) of a key Antarctic glacier, the Pine Island Glacier. The article states, “the single glacier alone contains 1.7 feet of potential global sea level rise and is thought to be in a process of unstable, ongoing retreat.” To learn more about how climate change contributed to this calving, and what the affects will be, read the article here.
“The alarming rate of glacial shrinkage worldwide threatens our current way of life, from biodiversity to tourism, hydropower to clean water supply.” (climatenewsnetwork.net)
During and in between NWNL’s dozens of expeditions to its six case-study watersheds, we have explored the value and current condition of glaciers on three continents, since they are a critical source of freshwater. NWNL visited the Columbia Icefields of Alberta, Canada in 2007; Argentine glaciers in 2003 and 2005; and Rebman Glacier on the summit of Tanzania’s Mt Kilimanjaro in 2003. We have witnessed the effect of climate change on glaciers. The melting of glaciers will affect all forms of water resources for human and wildlife communities. Just as upstream nutrients and pollutants travel downstream, “the loss of mountain ice creates problems for the people who live downstream.” Glacial loss must be thought of as just as important in the climate-change discussion as flooding and drought have become.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro via the Machame Route. Tanzania, East Africa. (2003)
Hole in ice of Lake Viedma Glacier in South Patagonia’s Glacier National Park, Argentina. (2005)
Sign marking the former edge of the glacier. Columbia Icefields, Alberta, Canada. (2007)
Lake Viedma Glacier at Glaciers National Park in Southern Patagonia, Argentina. (2005)
Athabasca Glacier in Columbia Icefields. Alberta, Canada. (2007)
Glacier melting and pouring into Blue Lake in the Andes Mountains. Southern Patagonia, Argentina. (2005)
Posted by Sarah Kearns, NWNL Project Manager.
All photos © Alison M. Jones.