First Advisor

Andrew G. Fountain

Date of Publication

Spring 6-6-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography






North Cascades (B.C. and Wash.), Glaciers -- Climatic factors -- Washington (State), Glaciology -- North Cascades (B.C. and Wash.), Climatic changes -- North Cascades (B.C. and Wash.)



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 130 pages)


Glaciers respond to local climate changes making them important indicators of regional climate change. The North Cascades region of Washington is the most glaciated region in the lower-48 states with approximately 25% of all glaciers and 40% of the total ice-covered area. While there are many on-going investigations of specific glaciers, little research has addressed the entire glacier cover of the region. A reference inventory of glaciers was derived from a comparison of two different inventories dating to about 1958. The different inventories agree within 93% of total number of glaciers and 94% of total ice-covered area. To quantify glacier change over the past century aerial photographs, topographic maps, and geologic maps were used. In ~1900 total area was about 533.89 ± 22.77 km2 and by 2009 the area was reduced by -56% ± 3% to 236.20 ± 12.60 km2. Most of that change occurred in the first half of the 20th century, between 1900 and 1958, -245.59 ± 25.97 km2 (-46% ± 5%) was lost, followed by a period of stability/growth in mid-century (-1% ± 3% from 1958-1990) then decline since the 1990s (-9% ± 3% from 1990-2009). The century-scale loss is associated with increasing regional temperatures warming in winter and summer; precipitation shows no trend. On a decadal time scale winter precipitation and winter and summer temperatures are important factors correlated with area loss. Topographically, smaller glaciers at lower elevations with steeper slopes and higher mean insolation exhibited greater loss than higher, gentler more shaded glaciers.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier (6924 kB)
Supplementary Glacier Inventory Geodatabase