SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – September 2007

How Climate Change is Affecting Our Alpine Environments

Thanks to melting ice and snow, climate change is effecting the future of our mountains

by: Michael Lanza

PAGE 1 2 3

Hot Times

1750
Alaska's Glacier Bay is buried under an ice sheet 4,000 feet thick and up to 20 miles wide.

1850
Glacier National Park has more than 150 glaciers.

1975
Rising temperatures in the Sierra Nevada cause peak runoff earlier in the year.

1988
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is established.

1990s
The Paradise Ice Caves vanish from Mt. Rainier National Park as the Paradise Glacier retreats.

1994
Mt. Rainier's glaciated area is 20 percent smaller than it was in 1913.

1999
Aerial photos show that North Cascades National Park has lost 13 percent of its glacier area since 1971.

2003
Glacier National Park has 73 percent less ice coverage than it did in 1850.

2007
The IPCC predicts a global temperature increase of 2 to 11.5°F by 2100.

2030
The last glaciers vacate Glacier National Park as mean summer temps hit 63°F. Meanwhile, Sierra snowpack is down 30 percent, threatening California's winter tourism industry and water supply.

2040
Colorado Rockies snowpack declines 24 percent.

2050
Half of the Arctic's permafrost acreage has melted to a depth of 10 feet. Spring runoff in Western rivers is down 10 to 20 percent.

2090
Average temperatures in the Sierra Nevada have risen 4.5°F, advancing snowmelt runoff by another month.


PAGE 1 2 3

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Christopher Shull
Mar 31, 2010

Mr. Lanza, you ask a terrific question. It is true that our climate has shifted through periods of warming and cooling on about a 10,000 year cycle, as I remember from my classes at Texas A&M some years ago. In those cycles temperatures would make very small shifts over thousands of years - kind of like simmering food. Volcanic eruptions and other natural effects caused this ongoing and very subtle change. The issue with climate change to day is the RATE at which human-produced gasses are accelerating the temperature change. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution we have seen what I recall to be just over a 1 degree F increase in the world's average temperature, with projections rising to about 3 degrees F if our emissions run unchecked over the near-term. This rate of warming over the past 100 years would take eons as a part of the 10,000 year ice-age cycle. Hope that sheds some light.

Steve
Apr 23, 2008

Michael Lanza,
Climate change may dramatically change things as you suggest. Your comments have gotten me thinking. My big question is how much of this is part of a grand cycle? Remember Otzi the backpacker found in the Tyrolean Alps? He died in a hollow depression that protected him from the glacier that eventually covered him up. The receding glacier revealed his body in 1991. Researchers say he died in approximately 3300 B.C. This makes me wonder if the glacier developed later - after he died. If so, what did the Alps look like then? Was it warmer? Maybe Otzi lived at the beginning of a cooling cycle and we are in a warming part of the cycle? Obviously, glaciers start sometime. This is especially evident in volcanic ranges. Mountains like St. Helen's form glaciers on top of the summits, but how long had the summit been there (especially St. Helens)? In Otzi's case, his body was well preserved by falling where he did. Now, if he actually fell into a cravasse at that location, then all bets are off on my glacier theory. But...one wonders what he saw in those mountains 5000 years ago. I bet the sunsets were just as beautiful.

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Health and Fitness
2014 fitness updates
Posted On: Jul 23, 2014
Submitted By: ol-zeke
Trailhead Register
The "Good Morning" thread: part 2
Posted On: Jul 23, 2014
Submitted By: ol-zeke

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions