From Scripps News service comes a summary of the gradual retreat of Washington’s glaciers: unsurprising, but worth noting nonetheless.
At Mount Rainier…the area covered by glaciers shrank by more than a fifth from 1913 to 1994, and the volume of the glaciers [declined] by almost one-fourth, the National Park Service says. From 1912 to 2001, the Nisqually Glacier on Mount Rainier retreated nearly a mile.
Since the first stirrings of the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago, glaciers in the northern Cascades have shrunk by 40 percent, and the pace is accelerating. The South Cascades Glacier, one of the most studied in the nation, has lost roughly half its mass since 1928….In the Olympic Mountains, glaciers have lost about one-third of their mass…
“Everything is now retreating, and the smaller glaciers are disappearing,” said Mote, a research scientist at the University of Washington, who’s guarded in attributing the changes directly to global warming but concedes the evidence is mounting.
As we’ve mentioned before, what happens in the mountains doesn’t stay in the mountains. Snowpack is a major economic resources for all Washington, since it’s a main source of water for agriculture and hydropower during the long, dry summer. Warmer mountaintops mean more than bad ski seasons—the economic losses range much wider. The condition of the region’s glaciers is more than an environmental bellwether, but an economic one as well.