Glacier Change (1958-1998) in the North Cascades National Park Complex, Washington, USA

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Journal of Glaciology

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The spatial characteristics for all glaciers in the North Cascades National Park Complex, USA, were estimated in 1958 and again in 1998. The total glacier area in 1958 was 117.3 ± 1.1 km2; by 1998 the glacier area had decreased to 109.1 ± 1.1 km2, a reduction of 8.2 ± 0.1 km2 (7%). Estimated volume loss during the 40 year period was 0.8 ± 0.1 km3 of ice. This volume loss contributes up to 6% of the August–September stream-flow and equals 16% of the August–September precipitation. No significant correlations were found between magnitude of glacier shrinkage and topographic characteristics of elevation, aspect or slope. However, the smaller glaciers lost proportionally more area than the larger glaciers and had a greater variability in fractional change than larger glaciers. Most of the well-studied alpine glaciers are much larger than the population median, so global estimates of glacier shrinkage, based on these well-studied glaciers, probably underestimate the true magnitude of regional glacier change.


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