glacier shrinks and retreats uphill (melting happens fastest at the snout than at the head); bigger reductions since 2005. Retreat of South Cascade Glacier, Washington, during the 20th Century pubs.usgs.gov U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center Aside from the last two groups, most of the glaciers of the North Cascades appear to have been in equilibrium with climatic conditions during the past decades. This study documents historic BC and dust deposition as well as their effect on albedo on South Cascade Glacier (SCG) in Washington State (USA) through the analysis of a 158‐m (139.5‐m water equivalent [w.e.]) A glacier that is in balance with the current climate will have zero net balance and a steady size. The USGS has been monitoring the mass balance of three glaciers in the Pacific Northwest and in Alaska for nearly 50 years. PACIFIC OCEAN. Since 1989, the cumulative net balances of all three glaciers show trends of rapid and sustained mass loss. Gulkana Glacier is inland and relatively isolated from maritime influences; therefore, the glacier has not responded distinctively to shifts in the PDO and to positions of winter storm tracks. The PDO cold phase tends to be associated with more southerly storm tracks directed at the Washington coast; South Cascade Glacier has tended to gain mass from this moisture at the expense of Wolverine Glacier. This was prompted by the National Academy of Sciences listing this as a high priority and a personal … Increased intensity of hydrologic cycling provides the simplest interpretation for the trend. The glacier is located at the head of the Cascade River, which drains into the Skagit River and Puget Sound. Meier, M.F., Tangborn, W.V., Mayo, L.R., and Post, A., 1971, Combined ice and water balances of Gulkana and Wolverine Glaciers, Alaska, and South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1965 and 1966 Hydrologic Years: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 715-A, 23 p., 4 pl. Mass turnover has increased throughout monitoring and the trend of increase has become stronger during the last two decades. Fairbanks, AK 99701, Shad O’Neel, Glaciologist (soneel@usgs.gov) Photos courtesy USGS. At the same time that South Cascade Glacier was gaining mass in the early 1970s, Wolverine Glacier was losing mass. The 50-year mass balance records for these three USGS Benchmark Glaciers show annual and interannual fluctuations that reflect the controlling climatic conditions. In its warm phase, the PDO tends to be associated with more northerly storm tracks, which in the past provided moisture for the growth of Wolverine Glacier at the expense of South Cascade Glacier. Setting a measurement stake at South Cascade Glacier, Washington. It spans 1300 m of elevation, from 1160 to 2470 m. The glacier is in a 31.5 km 2 basin and in 2016 it had an area of 16.0 km 2 (O'Neel et al, 2019). U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report. A glacier that is out of balance with the current climate will grow (advance) or shrink (retreat) depending on how the climate is changing (colder or wetter climate will cause advance, warmer or drier climate will cause retreat). The opposite trends for these two maritime glaciers were the result of a shift in the winter storm tracks coming from the northeast Pacific Ocean. Densities of snow and ice differ considerably and before glacier-average thickness changes in each material can be summed to the net balance, the changes must be converted to a common basis. One of the glaciers, the South Cascade Glacier in Washington, has lost nearly half its volume and a quarter of its mass since 1958, U.S. Geological Survey scientists said. Large mass turnover is typical of coastal, maritime glaciers where winter precipitation and snow accumulation are large. /fs/2009/3046/index.html and the beginning of the 21st Century. 3) is located in the North Cascades of Washington. South Cascade glacier shows alarming rate of melt The world's melting glaciers Glaciers around the world are retreating at unprecedented rates as temperatures rise due to climate change. The main trunk of the glacier has a southerly aspect, and is fed by four cirques with west, south, and east aspects. Anchorage, AK 99508. Water, Ice, and Meteorological Measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, Balance Years 2004 and 2005. U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center Figure 7. Mass turnover of the three benchmark glaciers. Glacier retreat in Glacier National Park, Montana. The glacier retreat was slow up to 1987 a total of 25 m. By 2015 the total retreat has amounted to 520 m. The lower section of the glacier below the lowest icefall is stagnant and will be lost. Page Contact Information: GS Pubs Web Contact Despite increasingly negative summer balances in the 1980s and 1990s, South Cascade Glacier did have a few years of positive mass balance; the most significant occurred in 1999, following the record 1998–99 winter snowfall. Data for South Cascade Glacier are available beginning in 1959 (relative to conditions in 1958) and for Gulkana and Wolverine Glaciers beginning in 1966 (relative to conditions in 1965). In all, about 25 percent of the ice that melted between 2003 and 2010 occurred in the Americas (excluding Greenland). Meltwater from the glacier flows directly into South Cascade Lake, which feeds the South Fork Cascade River, which is a tributary of the Skagit River. Part 1 Glacial “retreat" You will be working with data from South Cascade Glacier, WA, which has been monitored in detail by the USGS since 1959. Mass-balance data are presented here in three ways to show different aspects of the response of glaciers to climate: (1) cumulative net balance, (2) seasonal mass balance, and (3) mass turnover. The climate changes could be overwhelming the previously observed responses of the maritime glaciers to periodic shifts in ocean conditions, such as are represented by the PDO. At the same time that South Cascade Glacier was gaining mass in the early 1970s, Wolverine Glacier … Privacy Four less active glaciers (Lynch, White Chuck, South Cascade, and "Banded") have continued to retreat, and six stagnant, relict ice masses have undergone considerable losses. One interpretation of the trend towards increasing summer melt at the Benchmark Glaciers is that climate changes that are larger in scale and intensity than periodic shifts in ocean conditions (PDO) are underway. The net mass balance of a glacier is the difference between the mass gain through accumulation of snow and the mass loss through ablation. The most direct way to quantitatively observe changes in a glacier is to measure its mass balance: the difference between the amount of snowfall, or accumulation, on the glacier, and the amount of snow and ice that melts and runs off or is lost as icebergs or water vapor, collectively termed ablation (fig. This is exemplified by 2004, when strongly negative summer balances (fig. Mountain glaciers occur on all continents except Australia. Glacier retreat in Glacier National Park, Montana, U.S.A., is one example of land ice loss and glacier change. In accordance with these concepts, figure 7 shows that higher turnover rates occur at South Cascade and Wolverine Glaciers than at Gulkana Glacier. The glacier retreated 1.9 kilometres (1.2 mi) in 33 years. N. 0 400 800 KILOMETERS 0 400 800 MILES. Abstract The USGS Benchmark Glaciers each exhibit a long-term trend of increasing mass turnover, which have become more well-defined and stronger from 1985 to 2005. Figure 3. Glaciers gain mass through snowfall and lose mass through melting and sublimation (when water evaporates directly from solid ice). 6) can reveal whether variations in temperature or precipitation are primary factors for observed changes. It is bordered on the east by 8,261-foot (2,518 m) Sentinel Peak, and is about 17 mi (27 km) north of Glacier Peak in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Glaciers in coastal, maritime locations (such as Wolverine Glacier) exist primarily because of high snowfall rates, despite warm low-elevation temperatures. South Cascade Glacier is a large alpine glacier in the North Cascades of Washington, USA. Glaciers average changes in climate over space and time and provide a picture of climate trends in remote mountainous regions. 5). URL: http:// 6) resulting from record high temperatures and low precipitation, also set the stage for large, intense wildfires that burned in Alaska. Gulkana Glacier since 1966. Play media. Pelto's research team has recorded the mass balance of numerous glaciers, all of which are retreating due to global warming, which has raised temperatures; which in turn has increased melting and increased the frequency of winter rain and melt events that reduce winter accumulation on North Cascade glaciers. The net balance is the average mass balance over the entire glacier for one glaciological year, the time between the end of the summer ablation season from one year to the next. Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 29-Nov-2016 17:33:37 EST, Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge. FOIA By looking at this photo it's clear to see how quickly the glaciers are retreating in the modern world. Start studying Case Study of Glacier Retreat: South Cascade Glacier, USA. The cumulative balance trend for North Cascade glaciers indicates an increasing trend of negative mass balance. South Cascade Glacier lost mass at an almost constant rate during the late 1950s to the late 1960s, then gained mass until 1976, and has been losing mass at a fairly constant and rapid rate since 1977. UNITED STATES UNITED STATES. Time series of winter balance (net accumulation—blue), summer balance (net ablation—red), and net balance (yellow) for the three benchmark glaciers (Josberger and others, 2007). Policies and Notices, U.S. Department of the Interior | Note how far the glacier has retreated since the 1965 photo below. Today, the federal benchmark glacier program extends beyond Alaska and includes research at the South Cascade Glacier in Washington state and the Sperry Glacier in Montana. 1928 to 2000 comparison: These photos of the South Cascade Glacier in the Washington Cascade Mountains show dramatic retreat between 1928 and 2000. [2] It is bordered on the east by 8,261-foot (2,518 m) Sentinel Peak, and is about 17 mi (27 km) north of Glacier Peak in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The mean ELA is 1,900 m. Water from the basin flows into the Cascade River then the Skagit River. Glaciers respond to climate changes by thickening and advancing down-valley towards warmer lower altitudes or by thinning and retreating up-valley to higher altitudes. South Cascade Glacier, October 2000. This change, when coupled with a reduction in accumulation (thin snowpacks), has resulted in very negative net balances. Conversely, the net balance of Gulkana Glacier is best correlated with summer balance as expected because of the drier, continental climate of interior Alaska. 1). Annual data collection occurs at three glaciers that represent three climatic regions in the United States: South Cascade Glacier in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State; Wolverine Glacier on the Kenai Peninsula near Anchorage, Alaska; and Gulkana Glacier in the interior of Alaska (fig. 2). A qualitative method for observing these changes is through repeat photography—taking photographs from the same position through time (fig. Despite drought conditions, the warm weather caused excessive melting of glaciers in Alaska and consequent flooding of many glacier-fed rivers. Conversely, sustained periods of negative mass balance, where accumulation is less than ablation, results in glacier shrinkage. Tacoma, WA 98402, Rod March, Hydrologist (rsmarch@usgs.gov) moving averages are plotted as lines). Dominated by a maritime climate, the glacier receives heavy annual precipitation, exceeding 4.5 m in places ( PRISM Climate Group, 2006 ) and is heavily influenced by climate conditions in the Pacific Ocean ( Walters and Meier, 1989 ). Figure 6 shows the strong influence of regional climate. U.S. Geological Survey A shrinking glacier thins faster near the terminus (the lowest part of the glacier) than near the head (the highest part of the glacier), which is why the terminus retreats up-valley while the glacier head remains in place (fig. Photos courtesy USGS. South Cascade Glacier in Washington documented from 1928 to 2003 showing the recent rapid glacier retreating. The North Cascade Glacier Climate Project (NCGCP) was founded in 1983 to identify the response of North Cascade glaciers to regional climate change, particularly changes in mass balance, glacier runoff and terminus behavior. 2007-5055:70. For all three glaciers, the summer balance records show that consistently more ablation took place during the period from 1987 to 2004 than did prior to 1987. The cumulative net mass balance describes long-term trends in the glacier shape and size, that is, whether the glacier is growing or shrinking. Figure 2 shows trends for three “benchmark” glaciers: South Cascade Glacier in Washington state, Wolverine Glacier near Alaska’s southern coast, and Gulkana Glacier in Alaska’s interior. The least significant retreats among the glaciers studied were for Rabots Glacier in northern Sweden, and South Cascade Glacier in Washington state, with probabilities of 11 and 6 … This synchronous decline could be the result of recent climate changes that are stronger than the PDO-induced variations of the earlier periods of record. “South Cascade is at the end of the Pacific storm track, and it experiences a high degree of wintertime variability. ice core extracted in 1994 and spanning the period 1840–1991. G lacier monitoring methodology has evolved over time based on scientific reanalysis, and cumulative net mass balance Regional climate exhibits strong control on glacier mass balance, and over decadal time scales mass balances correlate with regional climate change. William Bidlake, Hydrologist (wbidlake@usgs.gov) CANADA. Evidence of retreat 1) USGS periodically measure South Cascade Glacier using photographic surveys and measurement stakes (take the same photo over a period of time to observe the changes) The least significant retreats among the glaciers studied were for Rabots Glacier in northern Sweden, and South Cascade Glacier in Washington state, with probabilities of 11 and 6 percent, respectively, that their retreats might be natural variability. 934 Broadway, Suite 300 A third way to explore the mass balance history of these three glaciers is by examining mass turnover, which describes the amount of water moving through the glacier system and the intensity of the local hydrologic cycle. Mass loss has accelerated during the last 15 years, coincident with the highest melt years on record. These glaciers can extend far down-valley to warm, low elevation regions (sometimes to sea level) where high ablation rates offset abundant maritime snow. South Cascade Glacier (lat 48°22' N., long 121°03' W., fig. 4210 University Drive Cumulative net balance of South Cascade, Wolverine, and Gulkana Glaciers (Josberger and others, 2007). Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. The mean annual balance from 1984 to 2009 on North Cascade glaciers is −0.51 m/y ().The cumulative balance is −13.26 m, equal to an ice thickness loss of nearly 15 m ().This is comparable to the mean annual balance on South Cascade Glacier of −0.78 m/y (Bidlake et al., 2007). What have we learned so far? These long periods of record provide clues to the climate shifts that may be driving glacier change. The accelerating loss of mass, the weakening correlation with the PDO, and increasing mass turnover likely are the result of changes to warmer and (or) drier climate conditions that are affecting all three regions. Measurements began on South Cascade Glacier, WA in 1958, expanding to Gulkana and Wolverine glaciers, AK in 1966, and later Sperry Glacier, MT in 2005. The first such map of a Mount St. Helens glacier was obtained in 2012, and the first for Mount Rainier in 2014. To see if a glacier is growing or shrinking, glaciologists check the condition of snow and ice at several locations on the glacier at the end of the melt season. The U.S. Geological Survey monitors only four of our nation’s glaciers on an annual basis, two of which are in the Lower 48: South Cascade Glacier in Washington and Sperry Glacier in Montana. Figure 2. CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=South_Cascade_Glacier&oldid=754096807, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 10 December 2016, at 21:10. Edward Josberger, Research Oceanographer (ejosberg@usgs.gov) 3400 Shell Street Glacier Cumulative Annual Balance: The negative trend has Glaciers that terminate in a lake or the ocean also lose mass through iceberg calving. Accessibility This correlation has weakened during the last two decades, as global average temperature has increased. The glacier advanced m more than any other on Mount Baker by 1975. The roles reversed in 1977, as South Cascade Glacier began to lose mass once again while Wolverine Glacier began to gain mass and continued to do so until 1989. The researchers also compare the satellite images with historical maps and information to determine a glacier’s advance or retreat over the past few decades. This mass balance record is now sufficient to interpret glacier responses to short- and long-term climate changes in the Pacific Northwest, the Alaska Coast, and the Alaska interior. The retreat of glaciers since 1850 affects the availability of fresh water for irrigation and domestic use, mountain recreation, animals and plants that depend on glacier-melt, and, in the longer term, the level of the … Figure 5. 3). Mass turnover is estimated by averaging the absolute values of winter and summer balances. Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Wolverine Glacier since 1966 Lemon Creek Glacier since 193 South Cascade Glacier since 198. This has led to the retreat of all 47 glaciers we monitor, with four of those glaciers having disappeared. Mass balance of the coastal South Cascade and Wolverine Glaciers correlate well with the PDO during the first few decades of the period of record, showing the effects of ocean-condition periodicity on glacier health. For example, several years of unusually high snowfall during the late 1970s and early 1980s caused the subsequent growth of Wolverine Glacier. Currently, the volume of land ice on Earth is decreasing, driving consequential changes to global sea level and local stream habitat. During climate changes, coastal glaciers are more sensitive to changes in precipitation (or the storm tracks that bring precipitation), whereas interior glaciers are more sensitive to changes in temperature. This valley glacier occupies roughly one-half of a 6.11-km 2 basin. The scientists check snow levels against stakes they’ve inserte… Positive mass balance occurs when accumulation is greater than ablation and if maintained over long periods results in glacier growth. Glaciers in continental or interior climates (for example, Gulkana Glacier) exist primarily because cold temperatures result in low ablation. The net balance of Wolverine Glacier (yellow bars) tracks the winter balance (blue bars) more closely than the summer balance (red bars), in accordance with its location in a coastal climate. This kind of retreating is the result of climate change which has significantly increased due to … The cumulative net balance is the total loss or gain of glacier mass since the beginning of the study period and is presented as spatially averaged thickness change (fig. These stake measurements, along with local temperature and precipitation data, allow USGS scientists to estimate the glacier net balance, as well as the seasonal winter (total accumulation) and summer (total ablation) balances that sum to the net balance. Fifty years of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research on glacier change shows recent dramatic shrinkage of glaciers in three climatic regions of the United States. Meltwater from the glacier flows directly into South Cascade Lake, which feeds the South Fork Cascade River, which is a tributary of the Skagit River. U.S. Geological Survey, Washington Water Science Center The retreat of … Title graphic image: South Cascade Glacier in the Washington Cascade Mountains, in 1928, 1979, and 2000 (Images courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center) Scientists track glacial change by measuring individual glaciers and comparing their size over time with records of … Canada WA Pacific Ocean Cascade Range South Cascade Glacier Seattle 50 100 200 km The map below shows the extent of the glacier in 1958 and in 2013. (5-year The project has grown steadily since then to include more glaciers every year. South Cascade Glacier located in a north-northwest facing valley near the crest of the Cascade Range in northwest Washington state. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge. Rapid retreat of glaciers is our region's way of tracking the rapid advance of global warming. All three glaciers have lost mass since USGS monitoring began more than four decades ago. This shift most likely was due to a shift in the phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which is an ocean-climate oscillation (similar to the El Niño Southern Oscillation) in which the pattern of ocean surface temperatures and atmospheric pressures in the North Pacific Ocean oscillates on about a multi-decadal timescale. (Josberger and others, 2007). Since the late 1950s, the USGS has maintained a long-term glacier mass-balance program at three North American glaciers. The results confirm stake measurements at South Cascade Glacier in the North Cascades, showing significant loss over the past 60 years. Between 1958 and 2009 South Cascade Glacier lost nearly a half of its volume.[3]. The glaciers on Mount Rainier decreased in area by 21% between 1913 and 1994 (Nylen, 2004). Figure 6. The well-studied South Cascade Glacier shrank by 22% during this time period (USGS), while the Blue Glacier in Olympic National Park saw a terminus retreat of 2% between 1957 and 1997 (Conway et al., 1999). On the other hand, seasonal balances (fig. South Cascade Glacier is a large alpine glacier in the North Cascades of Washington, USA. Glacier retreat results in the loss of the low-elevation region of the glacier. 4). The USGS Benchmark Glacier Program began in 1957 as a result of research efforts during the International Geophysical Year (Meier and others, 1971). With low total snowfall, glaciers in these areas melt before they extend far down valley. Diagram of a glacier showing components of mass balance. Snowy winters would have to occur much more frequently in the future to reduce or reverse mass loss from the glacier. Usgs monitoring began more than any other on Mount Baker by 1975 since 193 South Glacier! 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