New study tracks effect climate change has on B.C. glaciers
Ben Pelto and Micah May, searching for an ablation stake, or pole drilled into the ice the previous year, which was used to measure ice melt. (Supplied by Margot Vore)
A new study from UNBC is shedding light on changes in glacier mass due to rising temperatures.
Ben Pelto, a PhD Candidate in the UNBC Geography Program, tracked the impact the rising temperature is having on glaciers in the Columbia River basin.
Cutting samples from a snow core, to measure the density of the snowpack. Kokanee Glacier, April 2016, (Supplied by Jill Pelto)
“Knowing how much glaciers contribute to streamflow today is important for understanding how the ecosystems they support, and services they provide, will fare when the glaciers are gone or greatly reduced in size,” said Pelto.
The study was a multi-year project where 40 volunteers visited six glaciers twice per year to measure winter snowfall and summer snow and ice melt.
According to Pelto, this is the first time a team has tracked the changing size of glaciers in the Columbia River basin.
The team used an airborne laser scanner to create detailed maps of the glaciers each season.
“These estimates are as valuable as calibration and validation data for glacier models, better allowing us to predict future glacier response to climate change and runoff from these glaciers as they continue to shrink,” said Pelto.