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How Climate Change is Affecting Our Alpine Environments

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

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.

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