Despite (or perhaps because of) my hectic schedule the family took a trip up to Glacier National Park in Montana. I have always wanted to see it, but have never made it up there before. I finally used the excuse to take pictures for the website and the book to finally make it there. It is a beautiful place and well worth the visit. I did take the time to take lots of pictures and now I am going to put them to good use.
One question I wanted to ask the rangers there was “How old are the glaciers there?” There is a very common misconception that the glaciers there exist from the last ice age. That of course is wrong, but I was curious what they would say. The answer I got from the ranger was 3,000 years old. That is a reasonable answer, but one I find unlikely. Glaciers farther north and higher than Glacier National Park are typically much younger than that. I have never been able to find an ice core from glacier national park that would answer this question. Certainly it is possible that some of the glaciers are 3,000 years old, but I suspect that 900-1,000 is more accurate. I have yet to find enough accurate information to answer this though.
The glacier on Heavens Peak was the first one I got good pictures of. Even though it was a cloudy day. Here is the full size picture with all the camera details still attached.
Since I have not visited the part before, I had to search a little for a comparable picture from late July. Picking a picture from any other time of year would result in a misleading comparison. The best I found was the following picture that was described as late July in 2000. So the same mountain, but 11 years ago.
2011 shows significantly more snow than 2000 did for the same peak. Total precipitation is very important to glacier behavior and last winter had a lot of snow, hence in July there is still a lot of snow. Of course that this year has been abnormally cold has helped the snow.
The mountain to the right when viewed from the Going-to-Sun-Road resulted in this picture.
From the same source I found the comparable picture from 11 years ago.
Finally there are the pictures from Logan Pass. This is the place that only opened a few weeks ago because of the difficulty in removing the snow from the road. I would also like to add that they cleared out an enormous parking lot of snow. That is a land usage change that will inevitably result in faster melt rates because of the increased surface area of the snow that is exposed to the air during the summer. It is clear that the tourist activities that take place in Glacier National Park are reducing the snow coverage and perhaps impeding the natural cycle of things where there is extensive activities.
The snow that remains now is hard as a result of many melts and thaws. Snow cover like this that survives a summer could easily be the forming layer of a new glacier. Unfortunately the snow was removed from a football field sized area to make way for the parking lot. I noticed in many places on the road up where deep snow existed on each side of the road, but had been removed to clear the road. Such removal clearly impedes the natural melting of the snow.
Here are some comparable pictures from years ago.
I have done my best to show only pictures from July to keep the comparisons as valid as possible. Now let me ask this. How often is the month shown when warmists show year to year pictures of glaciers. Certainly many glaciers have receded in the past couple of decades, but that is only part of the story of the Earth’s climate. Glaciers are an indicator of what is going on with the climate, but not in the way that most people expect.
The glaciers here are beautiful. They may be melting now, but I am not worried about their existence. Small glaciers like these are young and like the early snowfall that happens each year they may melt before winter arrives. Understanding the climate is the key.