Quirks & Quarks

Canada's Disappearing Glaciers

Most glaciers in BC and Alberta are predicted to disappear by the end of the century.
Dome Glacier on the Columbia Icefield, Alberta (Anthony Stanley, cc-by-sa-2.0)
A new study has determined that most of the glaciers in British Columbia and Alberta will disappear completely by the end of the 21st century, under current climate warming conditions.

Dr. Garry Clarke, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia, found that 70 percent of glaciers overall will melt, but 90 percent of glaciers in the Rocky Mountains will be gone by 2100. One of the biggest impacts of the thinning glaciers will be on freshwater ecosystems.

During the summer months, glacial melt provides cool water to many headwaters. Warmer streams will have a negative impact on freshwater fish. However, glaciers in BC's north-west Coastal Mountains will survive because of the higher topography.

Related Links

Paper in Nature Geoscience
- UBC release
CBC News story
New Scientist story