Research Press Release

Canada’s disappearing glaciers

Nature Geoscience

April 7, 2015

Glaciers in western Canada are projected to lose 70% of their ice volume by 2100, relative to 2005, reports a study published online in Nature Geoscience. According to the simulations, the peak in meltwater contribution to rivers and streams from glacier wastage will occur between 2020 and 2040, followed by decades of declining flow.

Mountain glaciers around the world are melting as a result of climate warming. These glaciers store substantial amounts of water, and their loss could therefore affect water availability.

Garry Clarke and colleagues developed a high-resolution regional glaciation model for western Canada that explicitly simulates the physics of ice flow. Using climate change scenarios from an ensemble of global climate models, they found that glaciers on the coast will probably survive with significantly reduced ice volume, while inland glaciers are likely to vanish entirely.

In an accompanying News & Views, Andreas Vieli writes, “This rapid rate of glacier recession has implications for regional hydrology, water resources and the future landscape.”


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