"The snow is melting faster than it's being added to so the glaciers are just getting smaller," said glacier guide Corrie Holloway. Glaciers in Iceland, like other places, recede at different rates each year depending on a variety of conditions. It was the year of Impeachment, Lewinsky and The Big Lebowski. Around the world, people are hurt on glaciers every year. According to news reports at the time, Thais Grabenauer, 59, had been taking pictures with her husband at the foot of Exit Glacier, a towering wall of ice that’s one of the most popular attractions in Kenai Fjords National Park. The entrance to Exit Glacier, for instance, has signs along the road and the trail that have years on them to show how much the glacier has receded in roughly 100 years. Portland State University, offering opportunity to 27,000 students from all backgrounds, is Oregon’s only urban public research university. "This is a huge portion of our fresh water on this Earth," Holloway said. The only way to walk up to it now in the summer is to hike a mountain pass and cross several deep, fast rivers on a glacial plain. "We've made a lot of top 10 lists lately - you know that 'you have to come here before a certain time' before the glaciers melt and see the glaciers," she said. "I can remember exactly where a lot of these glaciers used to be, and see how much smaller they are.". Now that some of [the glaciers] are receding, they have to extend their infrastructure.”. From 1815 to 1999, Exit receded an average of 43 feet per year. But in the three decades since Grabenauer’s death, it has happened again—in Alaska and around the rest of the world. Ben Tracy is a CBS News White House correspondent based in Washington, D.C. Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the our 24/7 digital news network. "It's spectacular," Obama said, casting a glance over his shoulder and pausing, as the cameras clicked. “Some folks are really into the environmental aspect of it, some folks are really into the science aspects of it, some folks are definitely just into the aesthetics of it. “There are some very popular glaciers because they come in on a very shallow bay and they recede on a 100-meter-a-year basis,” he says. In that span, the measured volume of the glacier has receded from 1,221,782 square meters to 270,426 square meters meaning that the glacier has … On warm days, tourists can watch rivulets of water run off the surfaces of the ice, draining away into streams. “[Accidents] on the snow bridges and snow caves, that’s inexperience,” Kreznar says. This boom in “glacier tourism” seems to be dually spurred, at least in part, by climate change: For one, people seem eager to glimpse the majestic monuments of ice before they melt away. Every year, the Kenai Fjords National Park officers get complaints about tourists not being able to get close enough to Exit Glacier. But many visitors are still focused on the ice, Welling says. "And when they're gone - we lose that. Between 1981 and 2009, it started to quickly shrink. All Rights With global warming that is moving in right before our eyes, Exit Glacier has receded quite a bit the past 21 years. "From 1941 to 1951 it averaged 46.6 metres per year and in 1969 to 1972 it was 36.6 metres per year. Holloway took CBS News across two turquoise lakes formed by glacial runoff and then led the crew on a hike five miles up the side of a mountain to the top of Grinell Glacier, one of the park's most iconic ice sheets. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters The water melting from a glacier plays a very important role in the formation of depositional features at terrestrial glaciers. The river that begins at the glacier is rather clean and cold and empties out near a gravel pit outside of town – Seward. And the rate of recession has accelerated dramatically in recent years as the region faces warmer summers. Remember, this was a 2-mile hike to get to the glacier from the parking area, so Exit Glacier has receded around 2 miles over that timeframe. Last year alone, the Exit Glacier melted and retreated 57 metres toward the Harding ice field, which itself has lost 10 per ent of its mass since 1950, mainly due to climate change. At the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, there were about 80 glaciers in what would eventually become Glacier National Park. Reserved. In July/August the mosquito's are hungry so be prepared with spray, long sleeves and a hat. Gorgeous view down Resurrection River. Kreznar works for Exit Glacier Guides, a guiding business that has operated for 14 seasons, over which it has more than doubled its number of guides due to increased demand. With hotter summers, some wild flowers are already disappearing. Exit Glacier imaged by a RapidEye satellite on September 10, 2010. But the glaciers are melting much … Standing near the foot of the Exit Glacier, which has receded 1.25 miles since 1815 and 187 feet last year alone, Obama said “this is as good of a signpost of what we’re dealing with it comes to climate change as just about anything.” There could come a day when you'd have to travel quite a bit north to see glaciers, such as in Alaska. Copyright © 2020 CBS Interactive Inc.All rights reserved. "It'll still be you know a terrific landscape to come and enjoy, but it will have been changed by climate change.". See Alaska's Hubbard Glacier advancing 7 feet per day! Located three hours from Anchorage near Seward, the Kenai Fjords National Park is famous for its tidewater glaciers that calve into the water and its pristine beauty. I wish I had seen it even 15-20 years ago. Lee Hunt, the executive director of the Valdez Adventure Alliance, which operates the park containing Worthington Glacier, says about 100,000 unique visitors make their way to the site every year. Wooden signposts lined the trail, each of them marked with white numbers indicating where the glacier’s edge used to be in a given year. It was one of those wrong place, wrong time tragedies that seem unlikely to happen again. We want to hear what you think about this article. Credit: Ron Karpilo/NPS CBSNews.com Since then, Exit’s rate of retreat has sped up alarmingly, and the glacier is now retreating both in winter and summer. Still, it’s likely that people visiting glaciers may not anticipate consequences quite as immediate as dislodged half-ton chunks of ice. Mendenhall Glacier (also Sitaantaagu) is a glacier about 13.6 miles (21.9 km) long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles (19 km) from downtown Juneau in the southeast area of the U.S. state of Alaska. There is something definitely alluring about glaciers.”. But now, these frozen forces of nature are in full-scale retreat. In the last century the glacier, just one of many in the park, has receded several miles. The glaciers have been shrinking since 1850. Kreznar, Hunt, and Welling all said one reason many tourists gave for wanting to see glaciers is because of the feeling that it was their last chance to do so. In 2015, the last year with satellite imagery available, there were 26 named glaciers that met the size criteria of 0.1 km², nine fewer than in 1966. In the summer of 1987, a woman visiting Alaska was crushed by a 1,000-pound chunk of ice. Need to appreciate such wonderful glaciers seen in Alaska as each year continues, the glaciers are slowly fading away as weather continues to warm up. To date, there haven’t been many incidents of injury on Iceland’s glaciers, says Hans Welling, a researcher with the University of Iceland who has written about glacier tourism. The sign says “Exit Glacier Was Here.” The year: 1998. Every year, the Kenai Fjords National Park officers get complaints about tourists not being able to get close enough to Exit Glacier. I took the National Park Service table above, added 600 meters of retreat since 1974 based on the map in the Anchorage Daily News, and graphed the retreat rates since 1815. But the glaciers are melting much faster than scientists predicted just a few years ago, and could be gone entirely in just a decade. Lot of silt seen flowing in the melted ice water below Exit Glacier. The forests are drier and more disease-ridden and there are more extreme wildfires. “There’s a way onto it higher up.”. Extensive tourism and national-park systems are still relatively new for the country, he notes. "I just find that a glacier sounds pretty permanent, and all of a sudden it's like, 'no way it can't change that quickly,' and yet it is.". Last year alone, the Exit Glacier melted and retreated 187 feet (57 meters) toward the Harding ice field, which itself has lost 10 percent of its mass since 1950, mainly due to climate change. Wedgemount Glacier receded 34.8 metres last year, according to local researcher Karl Ricker. Last year, 2.9 million visitors came to the park. In 16 years, the glacier has receded dramatically. All appear to be part of a growing recognition that many of nature’s most picturesque scenes are fragile and changing. The signs were sobering: Exit Glacier has receded … (The 1992 climbing season on Denali saw 11 deaths in a single three-week period, according to the Alaska Division of Public Health.) The year 1998 wasn’t that long ago. Boats are increasingly used to cross the widening lake at the glacier’s foot. Exit Glacier, in Alaska's Kenai Fjords National Park. "A significant amount, but not a record," Ricker wrote in a recent update. The organization has added more warning signs and tries to remind people that glaciers can be dangerous, she says: “There are trails that go up to the toe of the glacier … but you know, people can’t resist scrambling up the sides. The average temperature in the park has risen two degrees. In just one year between 2013 and 2014, scientists recorded a retreat of approximately 187 feet. Nevertheless, Exit Glacier Guides has never had an accident on the ice, he says. Over tens of thousands of years massive sheets of ice slowly slid and chewed away at the rock carving out these valleys. There were once 150 glaciers in the park. Yet the twilight of Montana's glaciers is not just about the changing scenery. Exit Glacier at Kenai Fjords National Park was one of the stops for the president, where he pointed out that the glacier has receded more than 1.5 miles, and melting faster each year. There are bridges scattered around the country built to cross streams that have since moved entirely out from under them. One of the most visited spots is Exit Glacier, which has been rapidly retreating, and is part of the expansive Harding Icefield which can receive over nine meters of snow each year. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com. © 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. During the retreat of Exit Glacier from its Little Ice Age maximum in 1815 until recent times, the glacier has left a series of more than 11 moraines and retreated more than 1.25 miles (2 km). It briefs clients on safety, and the guides know the glacier well; Exit Glacier moves downhill about a foot a day in the summer, changing the nature of the ice day by day. From the ground we can see evidence of the retreat over just one year. Glaciers, on the other hand, are disappearing in real time. "The glaciers are continuing to shrink every year and at some point they will be gone," said Dan Fagre, a scientist with the United States Geological Survey who's been studying glaciers in Glacier National Park for 20 years. In recent years, people have been increasingly flocking to the world’s glaciers. It is amazing how much the Exit Glacier has receded over the years. It is beyond astonishing. And as ice sheets disappear, many glaciers are becoming more accessible—and unstable. Exit Glacier: Beautiful park, sad to see how much the glacier has receded - See 857 traveler reviews, 767 candid photos, and great deals for Kenai Fjords National Park, AK, at Tripadvisor. Most summer days, Trevor Kreznar leads visitors up this path to give them the chance to walk across the glacier and climb down into the crevasses. Exit Glacier is the sole glacier accessible by road in the park. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone. (CBS News) Two million people visit Montana's Glacier National Park each year, and most go to see one of the park's namesake masses of ice. Fairly easy walk with a path the first part of the way. The glaciers Need to appreciate such wonderful glaciers seen in Alaska as each year continues, the glaciers are slowly fading away as weather continues to warm up. Deaths like these remain rare, but they’re also telling cases of a broader trend. Holloway said people are coming to the glacier now because they know they have a short time to see the glaciers. Exit Glacier is a nice hike through the woods. The glacier is just east of the small city of Valdez, which is wreathed by glaciers, some of which are remote while others are highway accessible. “I would say maybe 10 percent of the [customers] have been on a glacier before,” Kreznar estimates. The managers now close the area at the base of the glacier each summer to protect people from falling ice, snow, and rocks. In 2003, 10 percent of the park burned.From the air, you can see the ashen scar stretch across entire hillsides and valleys. Bear Glacier, the largest glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, has two distinct medial moraines. Exit Glacier's melting has accelerated in recent years. (CBS News) Two million people visit Montana's Glacier National Park each year, and most go to see one of the park's namesake masses of ice. Since 1961, the world has lost 10.6 trillion tons of ice and snow. The glacier and surrounding landscape is protected as part of the 5,815 acres (2,353 ha) Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, a federally designated unit of the Tongass National Forest. From 1815 to 1999, Exit Glacier retreated at an average rate of 43 feet a year, though at widely varying rates, according to a Park Service analysis. The ice field receives over 400 inches of snow a year, which eventually compacts into ice. In 1998, you could touch the glacier at this spot. He reached another post reading “1951” - a marker for the edge of Alaska’s Exit Glacier that year - and gazed up toward where the rock-rutted ice mass has since receded, a quarter-mile away. About the Glaciers in Glacier National Park. The Retreat of Exit Glacier.pdf. “One side of it is people who are basically ignorant to it, and [the other side is] people knowingly taking risks.”, The 5-year-old boy who was hit by the rock from Worthington Glacier earlier this year was hiking with his family on a commonly used trail in a state recreation site. Fagre said the park will look different 20 to 30 years from now. Sad how much the glacier has receded in … All glaciers but one are receding. With global warming that is moving in right before our eyes, Exit Glacier has receded quite a bit the past 21 years. Exit Glacier, which the Park Service says got over 181,500 visitors last year, is not Alaska's only walk-up glacier, albeit with a walk that has been getting longer as the glacier shrivels. Welling says that Iceland’s parks have not traditionally considered climate change in their park plans, so now park managers have to strategize around the shifting rates and figure out ways to handle tourists coming to the parks. And then you have other folks who are really into the athleticism of it,” Kreznar says. Yet scientists say climate change, fueled by human pollution, has made them melt quicker and more extreme. In Iceland, where tourism has skyrocketed in the past decade, glaciers and ice caves have become key attractions. Laurel Meeks, who first hiked to Grinell 23 years ago, is shocked by how much of it is gone. You will notice the flush toilets … TheAtlantic.com Copyright (c) 2020 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. Now that glaciers have moved farther back, some entrepreneurs are opening other tour options on glacial lakes, such as kayaking. Glacier National Park has 37 named glaciers and they are one of the reasons people come to Glacier each year. The victims of climate change are already here. The glaciers and snow melt feed the streams and lakes, a lifeline for fish and the other animals, such as big horn sheep that call the area home. The majority of sediment eroded by the glacier … Middle latitude glaciers are located either between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle, or between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle. But the closure “is mostly just to keep people from going up the sides of the glacier,” says Mark Walters, who works in the Exit Glacier visitor center. The glacier was retreating much faster before 1918 than it has … In 1938, it covered nearly an entire valley. Exit Glacier has receded so much over the last 40 years that where the parking lot to the hike is now, the glacier was just 40 years ago! Glaciers growing on Glacier Peak, WA 16 Oct 08 – Email from reader Before I moved to CO in 2005 it was obvious that the glaciers and snow had receded and rock was visible in areas all the way to the peak. On the Vatnajökull ice cap, the largest ice cap in Europe, where the ends of glaciers jump out onto gravel plains, guides and park managers have been busily extending trails and taking vehicles farther to access the glaciers as they recede across the landscape. Now there are just 25, and scientists believe in the next 10 to 20 years, they could all be gone. In just one year in 2013, Exit Glacier receded around 180 feet! The glacier had an average retreat of roughly 6/10 of a mile each century or one kilometer each century. As people flock to see the world’s receding frozen wonders, they’re also encountering freak accidents. pace, and on Tuesday saw a glacier that might be moving a bit faster than some pieces of legislation. South of Anchorage, another popular glacier, Portage Glacier, is still referred to as a “roadside” glacier, though it’s receded too far to be seen from the road. Spring arrives about three weeks earlier, and the snow pack has been declining for 50 years. Five percent of the state is still covered in ice: there are about 2,000 major glaciers. The result is that places such as Exit Glacier are not only witnessing more tourists than ever crossing rocky, dangerous terrain; they’re also becoming better poised for those wrong place, wrong time misfortunes. A half-ton piece of the glacier calved off as the couple was snapping, killing Grabenauer and injuring her husband. In just a few decades, many of the park's glaciers have shrunk dramatically. Photographed May 17 in Kenai Fjords National Park. The retreat began in the 1800s when Alaska was still Russian territory. The growing risks to travelers on melting glaciers are cruel reminders of all the smaller-scale and sometimes unpredictable damages climate change can inflict—even in the places where its broadest impacts are most visible. "It's quite interesting to see it change that fast," she said. In 2009, for instance, two brothers crossed a safety barrier on New Zealand’s Fox Glacier and were buried under a collapsing ice shelf. I often see moose along the river and enjoy trips up there. That's huge.". There are marking stakes alongside the river with the year the glacier was at that point. Some are mountaineers making attempts on dangerous climbs across glaciers, like a Slovakian man who slid deep into a crevasse on the Kahiltna Glacier while trying to descend Alaska’s Denali in 2017. The glacier has retreated more than 0.3 kilometers (0.19 miles) since 1919, retreating at an average rate of about 4.0 meters (13 feet) per year. On a single day last July, two people were killed at separate glaciers in south-central Alaska: A 32-year-old woman was crushed by a collapsing ice ceiling on Byron Glacier, and a 5-year-old boy was hit by a rock falling from Worthington Glacier. Climate change is a slow creep: Often the shifts happen too gradually for people to see them in action. As you drive into the park, you will be both amazed and saddened to see just how far the glacier has receded in the last 100 years. That trend is not unique to North America. All are located in mountain ranges, notably the Himalayas; the Alps; the Pyrenees; Rocky Mountains; the Caucasus and Pacific Coast Ranges of North America; the PatagonianAndes in South America; and mountain range… A marker shows how far Exit Glacier has receded since 2005. “There’s a lot of pressure on the parks. Lot of silt seen flowing in the melted ice water below Exit Glacier. Not everyone shares this track record of safety. Others are casual tourists just trying to get close to the ice, like a 17-year-old who died earlier this year when he fell into a crevasse while hiking on Switzerland’s Gorner Glacier with his dad. The Bathrooms At Exit Glacier Nature Center Are Surprisingly Clean. A view of Montana's Glacier National Park. Both areas support glacier ice from mountain glaciers, valley glaciers and even smaller icecaps, which are usually located in higher mountainous regions. There’s one glacial lake, the Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, that an estimated 40 percent of the tourists in Iceland visit. The glacier has receded much farther than the trails surrounding it originally reached. Every year, nearly 300,000 people come to Kenai Fjords National Park, which sprawls along the southern coast of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and includes the vast majority of the Harding Icefield. 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