Alpine glaciers: Another decade of loss

Guest Commentary by Mauri Pelto (Nichols College)

Preliminary data reported from the reference glaciers of the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) in 2018 from Argentina, Austria, China, France, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and United States indicate that 2018 will be the 30th consecutive year of significant negative annual balance (> -200mm); with a mean balance of -1247 mm for the 25 reporting reference glaciers, with only one glacier reporting a positive mass balance (WGMS, 2018).

A view of how alpine glaciers in the Pacific Northwest fit into the broader ecosystem (J. Pelto).

I have spent 35 consecutive summers measuring mass balance on alpine glaciers, and more than 750 nights in a tent to record their response to climate change. A decade ago I described what was happening to alpine glaciers here at RC, but the continued signal of mass loss is inescapable and has been getting worse. The decadal mean annual mass balance of WGMS reference alpine glaciers was -171 mm in the 1980’s, -460 mm in the 1990’s, -500 mm for 2000’s and – 850 mm for 2010-2018.

Figure 1. Global Alpine glacier annual mass balance record of reference glaciers submitted to the

Original Title: Alpine glaciers: Another decade of loss
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