There were once 150 glaciers in the park. Sad how much the glacier has receded in … Standing near the foot of the Exit Glacier, which has receded 1.25 miles since 1815 and 187 feet last year alone, Obama said “this is as good of a signpost of what we’re dealing with it comes to climate change as just about anything.” © 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. On warm days, tourists can watch rivulets of water run off the surfaces of the ice, draining away into streams. In just one year between 2013 and 2014, scientists recorded a retreat of approximately 187 feet. About the Glaciers in Glacier National Park. “There’s a lot of pressure on the parks. Kreznar, Hunt, and Welling all said one reason many tourists gave for wanting to see glaciers is because of the feeling that it was their last chance to do so. In 2003, 10 percent of the park burned.From the air, you can see the ashen scar stretch across entire hillsides and valleys. I wish I had seen it even 15-20 years ago. Both areas support glacier ice from mountain glaciers, valley glaciers and even smaller icecaps, which are usually located in higher mountainous regions. “[Accidents] on the snow bridges and snow caves, that’s inexperience,” Kreznar says. In that span, the measured volume of the glacier has receded from 1,221,782 square meters to 270,426 square meters meaning that the glacier has … He reached another post reading “1951” - a marker for the edge of Alaska’s Exit Glacier that year - and gazed up toward where the rock-rutted ice mass has since receded, a quarter-mile away. There is something definitely alluring about glaciers.”. Portland State University, offering opportunity to 27,000 students from all backgrounds, is Oregon’s only urban public research university. As people flock to see the world’s receding frozen wonders, they’re also encountering freak accidents. The glaciers and snow melt feed the streams and lakes, a lifeline for fish and the other animals, such as big horn sheep that call the area home. This boom in “glacier tourism” seems to be dually spurred, at least in part, by climate change: For one, people seem eager to glimpse the majestic monuments of ice before they melt away. "A significant amount, but not a record," Ricker wrote in a recent update. But on our hike to Exit Glacier, we couldn’t miss the impacts of climate change. Ben Tracy is a CBS News White House correspondent based in Washington, D.C. Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the our 24/7 digital news network. Now there are just 25, and scientists believe in the next 10 to 20 years, they could all be gone. Exit Glacier's melting has accelerated in recent years. Last year alone, the Exit Glacier melted and retreated 57 metres toward the Harding ice field, which itself has lost 10 per ent of its mass since 1950, mainly due to climate change. The glacier has retreated more than 0.3 kilometers (0.19 miles) since 1919, retreating at an average rate of about 4.0 meters (13 feet) per year. Lot of silt seen flowing in the melted ice water below Exit Glacier. Welling says that Iceland’s parks have not traditionally considered climate change in their park plans, so now park managers have to strategize around the shifting rates and figure out ways to handle tourists coming to the parks. Every year, the Kenai Fjords National Park officers get complaints about tourists not being able to get close enough to Exit Glacier. The glacier was retreating much faster before 1918 than it has … Gorgeous view down Resurrection River. "The snow is melting faster than it's being added to so the glaciers are just getting smaller," said glacier guide Corrie Holloway. Climate change is a slow creep: Often the shifts happen too gradually for people to see them in action. Need to appreciate such wonderful glaciers seen in Alaska as each year continues, the glaciers are slowly fading away as weather continues to warm up. A marker shows how far Exit Glacier has receded since 2005. The glacier had an average retreat of roughly 6/10 of a mile each century or one kilometer each century. In 1938, it covered nearly an entire valley. The managers now close the area at the base of the glacier each summer to protect people from falling ice, snow, and rocks. The ice field receives over 400 inches of snow a year, which eventually compacts into ice. The forests are drier and more disease-ridden and there are more extreme wildfires. TheAtlantic.com Copyright (c) 2020 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. "It'll still be you know a terrific landscape to come and enjoy, but it will have been changed by climate change.". Exit Glacier has receded so much over the last 40 years that where the parking lot to the hike is now, the glacier was just 40 years ago! The glaciers have been shrinking since 1850. That trend is not unique to North America. There are marking stakes alongside the river with the year the glacier was at that point. Boats are increasingly used to cross the widening lake at the glacier’s foot. At the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, there were about 80 glaciers in what would eventually become Glacier National Park. But in the three decades since Grabenauer’s death, it has happened again—in Alaska and around the rest of the world. Laurel Meeks, who first hiked to Grinell 23 years ago, is shocked by how much of it is gone. The river that begins at the glacier is rather clean and cold and empties out near a gravel pit outside of town – Seward. The majority of sediment eroded by the glacier … Glaciers, on the other hand, are disappearing in real time. The year 1998 wasn’t that long ago. I took the National Park Service table above, added 600 meters of retreat since 1974 based on the map in the Anchorage Daily News, and graphed the retreat rates since 1815. A view of Montana's Glacier National Park. A half-ton piece of the glacier calved off as the couple was snapping, killing Grabenauer and injuring her husband. With global warming that is moving in right before our eyes, Exit Glacier has receded quite a bit the past 21 years. “There are some very popular glaciers because they come in on a very shallow bay and they recede on a 100-meter-a-year basis,” he says. "The glaciers are continuing to shrink every year and at some point they will be gone," said Dan Fagre, a scientist with the United States Geological Survey who's been studying glaciers in Glacier National Park for 20 years. With hotter summers, some wild flowers are already disappearing. See Alaska's Hubbard Glacier advancing 7 feet per day! Last year alone, the Exit Glacier melted and retreated 187 feet (57 meters) toward the Harding ice field, which itself has lost 10 percent of its mass since 1950, mainly due to climate change. You will notice the flush toilets … “One side of it is people who are basically ignorant to it, and [the other side is] people knowingly taking risks.”, The 5-year-old boy who was hit by the rock from Worthington Glacier earlier this year was hiking with his family on a commonly used trail in a state recreation site. Deaths like these remain rare, but they’re also telling cases of a broader trend. Glaciers in Iceland, like other places, recede at different rates each year depending on a variety of conditions. The growing risks to travelers on melting glaciers are cruel reminders of all the smaller-scale and sometimes unpredictable damages climate change can inflict—even in the places where its broadest impacts are most visible. Wedgemount Glacier receded 34.8 metres last year, according to local researcher Karl Ricker. But the glaciers are melting much faster than scientists predicted just a few years ago, and could be gone entirely in just a decade. I often see moose along the river and enjoy trips up there. Exit Glacier at Kenai Fjords National Park was one of the stops for the president, where he pointed out that the glacier has receded more than 1.5 miles, and melting faster each year. From 1815 to 1999, Exit receded an average of 43 feet per year. pace, and on Tuesday saw a glacier that might be moving a bit faster than some pieces of legislation. "It's spectacular," Obama said, casting a glance over his shoulder and pausing, as the cameras clicked. Copyright © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc.All rights reserved. Every year, the Kenai Fjords National Park officers get complaints about tourists not being able to get close enough to Exit Glacier. The entrance to Exit Glacier, for instance, has signs along the road and the trail that have years on them to show how much the glacier has receded in roughly 100 years. “Some folks are really into the environmental aspect of it, some folks are really into the science aspects of it, some folks are definitely just into the aesthetics of it. Lot of silt seen flowing in the melted ice water below Exit Glacier. Exit Glacier: Beautiful park, sad to see how much the glacier has receded - See 857 traveler reviews, 767 candid photos, and great deals for Kenai Fjords National Park, AK, at Tripadvisor. Fagre said the park will look different 20 to 30 years from now. Located three hours from Anchorage near Seward, the Kenai Fjords National Park is famous for its tidewater glaciers that calve into the water and its pristine beauty. Wooden signposts lined the trail, each of them marked with white numbers indicating where the glacier’s edge used to be in a given year. "I just find that a glacier sounds pretty permanent, and all of a sudden it's like, 'no way it can't change that quickly,' and yet it is.". Others are casual tourists just trying to get close to the ice, like a 17-year-old who died earlier this year when he fell into a crevasse while hiking on Switzerland’s Gorner Glacier with his dad. But the closure “is mostly just to keep people from going up the sides of the glacier,” says Mark Walters, who works in the Exit Glacier visitor center. (The 1992 climbing season on Denali saw 11 deaths in a single three-week period, according to the Alaska Division of Public Health.) Exit Glacier is a nice hike through the woods. (CBS News) Two million people visit Montana's Glacier National Park each year, and most go to see one of the park's namesake masses of ice. To date, there haven’t been many incidents of injury on Iceland’s glaciers, says Hans Welling, a researcher with the University of Iceland who has written about glacier tourism. Five percent of the state is still covered in ice: there are about 2,000 major glaciers. Since then, Exit’s rate of retreat has sped up alarmingly, and the glacier is now retreating both in winter and summer. On the Vatnajökull ice cap, the largest ice cap in Europe, where the ends of glaciers jump out onto gravel plains, guides and park managers have been busily extending trails and taking vehicles farther to access the glaciers as they recede across the landscape. The Bathrooms At Exit Glacier Nature Center Are Surprisingly Clean. Nevertheless, Exit Glacier Guides has never had an accident on the ice, he says. From the ground we can see evidence of the retreat over just one year. In the summer of 1987, a woman visiting Alaska was crushed by a 1,000-pound chunk of ice. In recent years, people have been increasingly flocking to the world’s glaciers. (CBS News) Two million people visit Montana's Glacier National Park each year, and most go to see one of the park's namesake masses of ice. Credit: Ron Karpilo/NPS CBSNews.com In 16 years, the glacier has receded dramatically. It was the year of Impeachment, Lewinsky and The Big Lebowski. "It's quite interesting to see it change that fast," she said. Spring arrives about three weeks earlier, and the snow pack has been declining for 50 years. In July/August the mosquito's are hungry so be prepared with spray, long sleeves and a hat. Since 1966, 11 of them have completely melted away. And as ice sheets disappear, many glaciers are becoming more accessible—and unstable. In 2015, the last year with satellite imagery available, there were 26 named glaciers that met the size criteria of 0.1 km², nine fewer than in 1966. But now, these frozen forces of nature are in full-scale retreat. Fairly easy walk with a path the first part of the way. Exit Glacier, which the Park Service says got over 181,500 visitors last year, is not Alaska's only walk-up glacier, albeit with a walk that has been getting longer as the glacier shrivels. Exit Glacier, in Alaska's Kenai Fjords National Park. “I would say maybe 10 percent of the [customers] have been on a glacier before,” Kreznar estimates. The victims of climate change are already here. In 2009, for instance, two brothers crossed a safety barrier on New Zealand’s Fox Glacier and were buried under a collapsing ice shelf. During the retreat of Exit Glacier from its Little Ice Age maximum in 1815 until recent times, the glacier has left a series of more than 11 moraines and retreated more than 1.25 miles (2 km). Holloway took CBS News across two turquoise lakes formed by glacial runoff and then led the crew on a hike five miles up the side of a mountain to the top of Grinell Glacier, one of the park's most iconic ice sheets. Still, it’s likely that people visiting glaciers may not anticipate consequences quite as immediate as dislodged half-ton chunks of ice. That's huge.". In just a few decades, many of the park's glaciers have shrunk dramatically. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters One of the most visited spots is Exit Glacier, which has been rapidly retreating, and is part of the expansive Harding Icefield which can receive over nine meters of snow each year. And the rate of recession has accelerated dramatically in recent years as the region faces warmer summers. As you drive into the park, you will be both amazed and saddened to see just how far the glacier has receded in the last 100 years. "This is a huge portion of our fresh water on this Earth," Holloway said. There’s one glacial lake, the Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, that an estimated 40 percent of the tourists in Iceland visit. Mendenhall Glacier (also Sitaantaagu) is a glacier about 13.6 miles (21.9 km) long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles (19 km) from downtown Juneau in the southeast area of the U.S. state of Alaska. The glacier and surrounding landscape is protected as part of the 5,815 acres (2,353 ha) Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, a federally designated unit of the Tongass National Forest. "From 1941 to 1951 it averaged 46.6 metres per year and in 1969 to 1972 it was 36.6 metres per year. Last year, 2.9 million visitors came to the park. Glaciers growing on Glacier Peak, WA 16 Oct 08 – Email from reader Before I moved to CO in 2005 it was obvious that the glaciers and snow had receded and rock was visible in areas all the way to the peak. Kreznar works for Exit Glacier Guides, a guiding business that has operated for 14 seasons, over which it has more than doubled its number of guides due to increased demand. All Rights Middle latitude glaciers are located either between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle, or between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle. We want to hear what you think about this article. South of Anchorage, another popular glacier, Portage Glacier, is still referred to as a “roadside” glacier, though it’s receded too far to be seen from the road. The signs were sobering: Exit Glacier has receded … Now that some of [the glaciers] are receding, they have to extend their infrastructure.”. But the glaciers are melting much … "We've made a lot of top 10 lists lately - you know that 'you have to come here before a certain time' before the glaciers melt and see the glaciers," she said. Bear Glacier, the largest glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, has two distinct medial moraines. It is beyond astonishing. Not everyone shares this track record of safety. Remember, this was a 2-mile hike to get to the glacier from the parking area, so Exit Glacier has receded around 2 miles over that timeframe. The glaciers Holloway said people are coming to the glacier now because they know they have a short time to see the glaciers. Emily … There could come a day when you'd have to travel quite a bit north to see glaciers, such as in Alaska. All appear to be part of a growing recognition that many of nature’s most picturesque scenes are fragile and changing. Extensive tourism and national-park systems are still relatively new for the country, he notes.
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