The glaciers of North America are melting four times faster than a decade ago

Photo: Richard Droker (Flickr)

In the frozen landscapes of the world, climate change is causing a great crisis. That includes the US UU And Canada, where not only ice is fading, but it is doing so at a faster pace than a decade ago, according to a new study published this week in Geophysical Research Letters.

The fastest meltdown can be partially attributed to a change in weather patterns in recent years, which has worked in concert with rising temperatures to accelerate the disappearance of ice.

The glaciers of North America are remnants of the Ice Age. Adhere to the high peaks from British Columbia to Montana, where snow fills them every winter and temperatures have been cool enough to keep them more or less in balance for centuries. But now humans have thrown that equation out of control, dumping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The result has been the death of ice.

There are ice monitoring stations to measure what is happening throughout the west, but the new research uses satellites to see how much ice has changed. By detecting minute elevation changes from year to year from 2000 to 18, scientists were able to paint a full picture of declining ice. Brian Menounos, a glacier researcher at the University of Northern British Columbia, told Earther that the research could "improve modeling efforts for the fate of glaciers in western North America in the coming decades."

More than 80 percent of the glaciers showed a loss in elevation, indicating that they are losing ice faster than snow can replenish what is melting. The northern parts of the interior of British Columbia saw the most dramatic thinning.

Between 2000 and 2009, western North America lost an average of 2.9 gigatons of ice per year or approximately 1.16 million Olympic swimming pools. But as of 2009-18, ice loss quadrupled to 12.3 gigatons per year. Researchers attribute part of that change in weather patterns to a warmer, drier climate in the mountains of the southern coast of British Columbia, which hold half the ice in the study area.

"We still do not know what the source of the change in the jet stream was," said Menounos. "It can be a natural variability or also a manifestation of climate change caused by man. More work is needed on that subject. "

But the loss of ice would not be possible with the increase in background temperature. All this is important for the inhabitants of the lowlands. Let's leave aside the fact that some of the most beautiful landscapes of the continent and the plants and animals that call them home are being devastated by climate change. These glaciers also store a large amount of water used for crops and drinking, while providing economic benefits by attracting hikers and skiers from afar. Its demise threatens to drastically change entire economies, which is part of what makes climate projections that show places like Glacier National Park ice-free by the 2030s, so disturbing.

This new study only adds to those concerns.

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