Confirmed: America's Glaciers Shrinking Over Past 50 Years, Warming Climate to Blame


Gulkana glacier in Alaska, photo: USGS

Lest you have an lingering doubt about glaciers melting: The US Geological Survey has just released a report on long-term glacier measurements in the United States which confirms that, yes glaciers are melting as the climate warms. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pointed out that this report is the result of 50 years of monitoring glaciers:The glaciers in question in the report are the Gulkana and Wolverine glaciers in Alaska, and the South Cascade glacier in Washington. The three glaciers are called benchmark glaciers in the study, due to they being widely spaced, representing different climate regimes, and therefore suitable for use in study thousands of other glaciers in nearby regions.

USGS scientist Bruce Molnia said, "In addition to these three glaciers, more than 99% of America's thousands of large glaciers have long documented records of an overall shrinkage as climate warms." Molnia added,

Advancing Glaciers are the Anomaly

Many people are surprised to learn that a few glaciers are thickening and advancing. These glaciers are responding to unusual and local conditions, including having large, high elevation areas where snow accumulates. Except for these anomalous few, most of America's glaciers are shrinking and these exceptions emphasize how natural variability is an inherent part of a complex Earth system.


South Cascade glacier, photos: USGS

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Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects | United States

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