Posted by: magmatist | October 7, 2013

Glacier field studies at Mount Baker, 2013

Dr. Mauri Pelto (Nichols College, Massachusetts), is Director of the North Cascades Glacier Climate Project. Since 1983, he and his volunteer assistants have been monitoring mass balance (the difference between snow accumulation and melt) at Cascade glaciers. Much of their monitoring work has been done on Mount Baker’

Screenshot from Pelto's 2013 video showing recession of Easton Glacier on Mount Baker.

Screenshot from Pelto’s 2013 video showing 1990-2013 recession of Easton Glacier on Mount Baker.

In 2013, glacier monitoring continued at several Mount Baker glaciers. The 2013 field team included Stewart Willis and Matt Holland, Western Washington University, Jill Pelto, U of Maine, Ben Pelto, UMass, Jezra Beaulieu and Oliver Grah, Nooksack Indian Tribe research scientists, and Tom Hammond, North Cascade Conservation Council. Alan Kearney, Bellingham alpine photographer, came along to take photos.

  • Sholes Glacier, on the northern flank of Landes Cleaver, beyond the far west end of the Ptarmigan Ridge Trail. 100% snow-covered on July 19, 60% by August 20.
  • Rainbow Glacier, draining into Rainbow Creek on the east flank of the volcano. Mauri reports “Typical (snow) depths are over 5-6 m, this year 3.75-4.5 m.”
  • Easton Glacier.  The “terminus…was fully exposed by the start of August. The terminus slope has thinned markedly in the last three years as retreat has continued. The retreat of Easton Glacier has averaged 10 m/year from 2009-2013. This year the retreat will exceed that (in only ) two months of exposure.
  • Deming Glacier retreat has been exceptional over the last 12 months with at least 30 m of retreat. (See August 12th post on MBVRC blog).

Glacier monitoring was also undertaken at

  • Columbia Glacier (85 m retreat since 1990)
  • Lower Curtis Glacier, Mount Shuksan: (retreat of 20 m since 2011).
  • Ice Worm (aka Hyas Creek) Glacier (Mount Daniels)
  • Lynch Glacier (Mount Daniels)
  • Daniels Glacier (Mount Daniels)

Mauri’s full report is on his blog:

A video from the 2013 monitoring season is on his blog here. Much of the scenery is at Mount Baker. There is a nice exhibition of boot glissading at 5 minutes. Note that the Pelto team does not use ropes on snow-covered glaciers, though they do try to avoid falling into crevasses by probing with long probes.


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