North Cascade Glacier Annual Mass Balance Record Analysis 1984-2013
Thursday, 18 December 2014: 2:50 PM
The North Cascade Glacier Climate Project (NCGCP) was founded in 1983 to monitor 10 glaciers throughout the range and identify their response to climate change. The annual observations include mass balance, terminus behavior, glacier surface area and accumulation area ratio (AAR). Annual mass balance (Ba) measurements have been continued on the 8 original glaciers that still exist. Two glaciers have disappeared: the Lewis Glacier and Spider Glacier. In 1990, Easton Glacier and Sholes Glacier were added to the annual balance program to offset the loss. One other glacier Foss Glacier has declined to the extent that continued measurement will likely not be possible. Here we examine the 30 year long Ba time series from this project. All of the data have been reported to the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS). This comparatively long record from glaciers in one region conducted by the same research program using the same methods offers some useful comparative data. Degree day factors for melt of 4.3 mm w.e.°C-1d-1 for snow and 6.6 mm w.e.°C-1d-1 for ice has been determined from 412 days of ablation observation. The variation in the AAR for equilibrium Ba is small ranging from 60 to 67. The mean annual balance of the glaciers from 1984-2013 is -0.45 ma-1, ranging from -0.31 to -0.57 ma-1 for individual glacier’s. The correlation coefficient of Ba is above 0.80 between all glaciers including the USGS benchmark glacier, South Cascade Glacier. This indicates that the response is to regional climate change, not local factors. The mean annual balance of -0.45 ma-1 is close to the WGMS global average for this period -0.50 ma-1. The cumulative loss of 13.5 m w.e. and 15 m of ice thickness represents more than 20% of the volume of the glaciers.