British Columbia

Decker Glacier lake at Whistler a sign of melt to come

B.C. lawyer Jason Krupa took a weekend hike back to a spot near Blackcomb Mountain, where eight years ago he snapped a view of the Decker Glacier. His before and after photos show the glacier's shocking retreat over that period.

Dramatic glacial retreats may not be typical, but are possible harbingers of a glacier-free future

A mostly blue-green lake, captured in Aug. 17, 2014, photo, is in place of an icy white Decker Glacier. (Jason Krupa)

Anyone hiking in the Coast Mountains off the B.C. coast this summer may have noticed some dramatic changes to the landscape.

Last weekend, for instance, B.C. lawyer Jason Krupa hiked back to a spot near Blackcomb Mountain where he snapped a view of the Decker Glacier eight years ago.

What was cold white in 2006 is now a stunning blue."

It was half to two-thirds water. I was pretty sure in 2006 that was all solid ice. So it was actually quite scary," he said.

Brian Menounos, an associate professor of geography at the University of Northern British Columbia, says he is aware that the rate of glacial retreat appears to be accelerating in many cases.

"We know that many of these mountain glaciers are not long for this world," Menounos told CBC News.

Glaciers like Decker end in a low-angled slope, which means what's left of the glacier ice may suddenly melt into a lake. Steeper sloped glaciers are also rapidly retreating thanks to hot summers and winters that bring little new snow.

If the overall warmer-and-drier trend continues, most of B.C.'s glaciers will gone by the end of this century, he said.

That means some B.C. places, like Glacier National Park near Revelstoke, might consider changing their names.

"You know, without glaciers, I'm not sure what a suitable name for that particular region would be."

With files from the CBC's Jason Proctor