Enjoy these views of Alaska’s Wolverine Glacier while you can. Soon enough, they’ll be relegated to a distant memory.
As Earth’s climate shifts under the strain caused by human civilization, scientists have turned to one of the world’s oldest natural wonders for answers: glaciers. Since 1966, researchers have been measuring how the mass of these dense pockets of ice and snow changes over time.
The Wolverine Glacier is one of several examples in Alaska that has been monitored for decades. According to a U.S. Geological Survey study published in 2016 – 50 years after measurements were first taken – the stats aren’t great.
The mass of the three glaciers under observation decreased during the study’s first 50 years, and the rate of reduction accelerated sharply in the final 15 years of that stretch. There’s also an increasing amount of water flowing through them as long-frozen ice melts – contributing to the reduction in mass.
There are plenty of data points that tell us global temperatures are rising, and this is one more. The USGS research continues even now, and these photos, taken early in September, showcase some of the natural Earthly beauty we’re at risk of losing in the face of climate change denial.