First Advisor

Andrew G. Fountain

Date of Publication

Winter 3-5-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Glaciers -- Montana -- Glacier National Park -- Measurement -- 20th century, Glaciers -- Montana -- Glacier National Park -- Measurement -- 21st century, Glaciers -- Climatic factors -- Montana -- Glacier National Park



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 110 pages)


Glacier National Park, in northwestern Montana, is a unique and awe-inspiring national treasure that is often used by the media and public-at-large as a window into the effects of climate change. An updated inventory of glaciers and perennial snowfields (G&PS) in the Park, along with an assessment of their change over time, is essential to understanding the role that glaciers are playing in the environment of this Park. Nine inventories between 1966 and 2015 were compiled to assess area changes of G&PS. Over that 49-year period, total area changed by nearly -34 ± 11% between 1966 and 2015. Volume change, determined from changes in surface topography for nine glaciers, totaling 8.61 km² in area, was +0.142 ± 0.02 km³, a specific volume loss of -16.3 ± 2.5m. Extrapolating to all G&PS in the Park in 1966 yields a park-wide loss of -0.660 ± 0.099 km³. G&PS have been receding in the Park due to warming air temperatures rather than changes in precipitation, which has not changed significantly. Since 1900, air temperatures in Glacier National Park have warmed by +1.3 C°, compared to +0.9 C° globally. Spatially, G&PS at lower elevations and on steeper slopes lost relatively more area than other G&PS.


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