MIA in Glacier National Park: Actual Glaciers

Receding ice sheets could have big ramifications in the West
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2014 12:40 PM CST
MIA in Glacier National Park: Actual Glaciers
This July 3, 2013, photo shows the Numa Ridge Lookout in Glacier National Park, Flathead County, Mont.   (AP Photo/The Great Falls Tribune, Michael Beall)

"National Park" doesn't have much of a ring to it, but that soon might be a more fitting name for Glacier National Park if its eponymous glaciers keep going the way of the dinosaurs: The New York Times takes a look today at glacier melt in the Montana park, which was home to 150 glaciers some 100 years ago, and hosts only 25 today. But more than a dramatically changing landscape, the ramifications are flowing rapidly downhill: "As glaciers disappear, there will be a reduction in the water at the same time that demand is going up," says a USGS ecologist. "I think we’re on the cusp of bigger changes."

Reduced snowpack is combining with earlier and warmer springs for what one snow hydrologist likens to "turning on your faucet in your sink and all your water runs out in an hour’s time"—a big deal in a region that depends on mountain snowmelt for 80% of its water, notes the Times. "We’re a snow-driven ecosystem, and glaciers are just a part of that," says the ecologist. "The way the snow goes is the way our ecosystem goes." Drier land is driving an increase in wildfires and outbreaks of pests, and the early snowmelt is wreaking havoc on the Colorado River and the 40 million people who draw water from it. Click for the Times' whole piece; or check out the other six places you should see before they're gone. (Read more Glacier National Park stories.)

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