Canada's Western Glaciers Will Shrink 70 Percent By 2100

Scientists predict the majestic glaciers that cap the Canadian Rockies will lose 70 percent of their volume by 2100.

The glaciers that helped shape the Canadian Rockies into the beautiful mountains they are today may be gone by 2100. Indeed, the days of the iconic, snow-capped Western mountains may be numbered, so get your photographs in while you can, according to researchers.

The prediction states that the glaciers in Alberta and British Columbia will lose up to 70 percent (give or take 10 percent) of their volume by 2100 (and that's a conservative estimate). How did they come to this conclusion, you ask? The researchers used a combination of glacier physics and 21st century global climate change models to simulate and “project the fate of glaciers in Western Canada.”

They write in their letter, published in the journal Nature, that “few glaciers will remain in the Interior and Rockies regions, but maritime glaciers, in particular those in northwestern British Columbia, will survive in a diminished state.”

In their study, they even map out when the major volume loss will occur, which they predict will happen around 2020 to 2040. Of course, it's not just the sights that will impact Canada's tourism, but the researchers predict there will be “impacts on aquatic ecosystems, agriculture, forestry, alpine tourism, and water quality.”

Garry Clarke, who led the study, explained in more detail in an interview with AFP:

“When the glaciers have gone, we lose the important services they provide: a buffer against hot, dry spells in late summer that keeps headwater streams flowing and cool, and sustains cool-water aquatic species.”

For any climate deniers out there looking to poke holes in this prediction, Clarke added:

“Glaciers respond to climate, not weather, and their shrinkage signals that climate change is real and its consequences are serious.”

The researchers add that the process is reversible, but if the efforts of climate deniers are any indication, then change won't happen fast enough. Bill Nye, in a recent interview with Big Think, talks about a recent appearance on Meet the Press, where Representative Marsha Blackburn tried to discredit his claims. This troubles Nye — the fact that we're headed toward an extinction event and people like Blackburn aren't willing to take the scientific findings at face value:

Read more at AFP.

Photo Credit: McKay Savage/Flickr

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