Travel Blog

14 Sep

Our Disappearing Glaciers

Every year glaciers across the planet fluctuate and gain or lose ice depending on snowpack, air temperature changes, and precipitation. However the long term trends are clear, about 90% of the world’s glaciers are shrinking. In Garibaldi Provincial Park over 505 km2 was covered by glacier ice at the beginning of the 18th century. Ice cover decreased to 297 km2 by 1988 and to 245 km2 by 2005.[1]

Overlord Glacier

Karl Ricker

While camping at the foot of Overlord Glacier I stumbled upon Karl Ricker, a retired geologist. After a brief explanation of what he was doing, he asked if I could offer my assistance, and I eagerly jumped at the opportunity. Together we measured two arms of the glacier, one had retreated 1.5 metres, and the other 14.8 metres.

I’m sure all of us have heard about retreating glaciers across the world, and have seen pictures of once mighty icefields reduced to glacier meltwater. But being there firsthand and hearing the creaks and groans of a disappearing ice sheet that my grandchildren may never see is a pretty eyeopening experience.

Overlord Glacier

Photos by Erik Mauer

[1] J.Koch, B.Menounos and J.Clague (2009). “Glacier change in Garibaldi Provincial Park, southern Coast Mountains, British Columbia, since the Little Ice Age”. Global and Planetary Change. 66. (3–4) 161–178 (3–4): 161.

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