Worried climate change scientists can point to one sure sign the world has gotten hotter since we got all industrialized — glaciers everywhere have been melting at exponential rates. But one mountain didn't get the memo: The seven glaciers creeping down the sides of California's Mt. Shasta are actually growing.
But before you global-warming doubters get all uppity, keep in mind that scientists think Shasta's glacier growth is caused by climate change. A warming Pacific Ocean has created more moist air over Northern California, which translates into higher rates of precipitation and heavier snowfall — just enough to overcome the 1.8-degree increase in average temperature over the last century. Since 1950, Shasta's smallest glaciers have more than doubled in length.
Sadly, Shasta won't be able to brag for long. Temperature rates are increasing so fast that the mountain would have to receive 20 percent more snow for every 1.8-degree increase to maintain its glaciers; as of now, scientists theorize the earth could get between 2 and 11.5 degrees warmer over the next 100 years. By 2100, climatologists think Shasta's 4.7 billion cubic feet of ice could disappear completely.
Of course, Shasta is a Cascade volcano, and if it erupts, the ensuing lava and mud flows could eliminate all the glaciers in one catastrophic event — not to mention destroy all the small communities surrounding the peak.
Shasta seems to erupt every 250 to 300 years, with the last eruption occurring about 200 years ago. Seems we're just about due for another blow-up.
(Note to self: Don't move near Mt. Shasta.)
— Ted Alvarez