An announcement from the National Park Service last week confirms that the effects of climate change have come to Yosemite National Park in California.
Yosemite’s Lyell Glacier, the largest inside the park, has stopped advancing and is shrinking. The National Park Service worked with the University of Colorado on a four-year study of the glacier. The team measured the glacier’s movement by putting stakes in the ice and recording their positions. In the four year period, the stakes did not move.
The study also included research on the nearby Maclure Glacier. Although this ice flow is still moving about an inch each day, it has lost almost 60 percent of its mass.
Glaciers are created by the collection and solidification of ice and snow in the mountains. When they become large and heavy enough, their girth combined with melt water causes the ice bodies to slide downhill at a slow rate. When they stop moving or begin to retreat, it is a sign that that they no longer have the mass or moisture to travel downhill.
The scientists plan to continue research their research over the next few years. They will record the thickness of the snowpacks, range in temperatures and the rate of ice melt to better understand how global warming effects the glaciers.