Glacier National Park was given its name for a reason. In 1850, explorers counted and pointed out the existence of over 150 glaciers in the park. But now, these formations are in danger of melting away. A new study released by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS), shows that their number has shrunk significantly. It also presents the overall size of every remaining one.
Montana’s Park Glaciers In Danger
The study was conducted mostly by examining photographic data gathered from both aerial and satellite imagery. These photos of the park were taken over the last fifty years. 1966, 1998, 2005, 2015, and 2016 were specifically examined. The scientists also carried out direct site trips and used historical data collected over the park’s 107 years of existence.
After analyzing all the data, the team was astounded by the changes they discovered. Not just for the fact of how many park glaciers have receded, but at how quickly they have done so. This shrinking has been significantly faster in more recent years.
The standard in science for determining if a sheet of ice is a glacier is 25 acres or about 20 American football fields. Only 26 of the park’s ice formations still classify as glaciers, according to the standard. More than 100 have disappeared altogether since the 1850 count. This newly gathered data also shows that the change is continuing at a fast pace.
According to the research team, they are not hoping that their study may save the glaciers in Glacier National Park from melting away. It may well be too late for that. However, they do wish to present it as a proof of the changes brought on by climate changes and warming temperatures.
Lisa McKeon, a USGS scientist documenting glaciers since 1997, stated, “Tracking these small alpine glaciers has been instrumental in describing climate change effects on Glacier National Park to park management and the public.”
This study is also part of a larger research project. Through it, scientists are hoping to understand better the impact and effects of “large-scale climate patterns” on glacier found across various and distinct mountain environments.
Image Source: Wikimedia