Dedicated to the balanced discussion of global warming
July 8, 2008 – USA Today
The reasons that a glacier grows or shrinks are not solely due to air temperature (regardless of what Mr. Gore implies). This story in the USA Today is a prime example of proving this false. Unfortunately, this mountain seems to be the only mountain in the lower 48 states of the USA that has growing glaciers.
Due to Mt. Shasta’s elevation and proximity to the Pacific ocean with its prevailing winds, the area is seeing an increase in precipitation in the form of snow. This snow is forming glaciers.
This does not mean that global warming doesn’t cause glaciers to shrink! This just means that the formation and the maintenance of glaciers is more complicated than just ambient temperature.
Its seven glaciers, referred to by American Indians as the footsteps made by the creator when he descended to Earth, are the only historical glaciers in the continental U.S. known to be growing.
“When people look at glaciers around the world, the majority of them are shrinking,” said Slawek Tulaczyk, an assistant professor of earth sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “These glaciers seem to be benefiting from the warming ocean.”
Scientists say a warming Pacific Ocean means more moist air sweeping over far Northern California. Because of Shasta’s location and 14,162-foot elevation, the precipitation is falling as snow, adding to the mass of the mountain’s glaciers.
By comparison, the glaciers in the Sierra Nevada, which are about 560 miles south of Mt. Shasta, are exposed to warmer summer temperatures and are retreating.
Four glaciers at Mt. Rainier in Washington state are staying about the same size. Those glaciers — shielded from the sun on the north and east sides of the mountain — have received just enough snow to keep them from shrinking, Fountain said
Until recently, the same phenomenon that is now benefiting Shasta’s glaciers was feeding glacier growth in southern Norway and Sweden, the New Zealand Alps and northern Pakistan, according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In each area, scientists say more snowfall temporarily offset warming temperatures in the 1990s and early 2000s. But rising temperatures since then have begun to shrink those ice fields.
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