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January 12, 2005

Melting Mountains

There is new evidence that the world's glaciers are melting, reported today in the Denver Post. A glacier expert at the University of Colorado calculated that the total volume of the world's glaciers has declined by a tenth over the past 40 years. And the melting has been even more severe in Alaska, the Andes, and the Alps. To see some arresting imagery of the vanishing glaciers in Alaska, see our recent post on the subject.

Melting glaciers are not news to long-time mountain climbers. Lou Whittaker, for instance, Cascadian climber extraordinaire who runs Rainier Mountaineering, Inc., believes that changing climate conditions are altering the glaciers on Mount Rainier, a peak he's bagged more than 250 times. The Denver Post article taps several Colorado-based climbers who agree.

In truth, glacial retreats happen for a variety of reasons, not all of them related to human-induced climate change. But global warming almost certainly exacerbates the trend. In the Northwest, nearly fifty scientists recently issued a consensus statement, pointing out that in a quarter century, a quarter of the Cascade's snowpack will be gone.

Posted by Eric de Place | Permalink

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