GLACIERS MELTING IN MONTANA PARK

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GLACIERS MELTING IN MONTANA PARK

 user 2006-03-15 at 11:38:00 am Views: 42
  • #14820

    Glaciers Melting in Montana Park
    (March
    06) — A panel meeting in France this week plans to discuss concerns
    that human-caused warming of the climate is why the glaciers in Glacier
    National Park are melting.

    CBS News correspondent Stephan
    Kaufman reports one proposal to be discussed at the World Heritage and
    Climate Change meeting in Paris this week is a plan to designate
    Montana’s Glacier National Park as a “world heritage site in danger”
    due to global warming.
    A dozen organizations last month filed a
    petition asking the United Nations to declare Glacier in Montana and
    the adjacent Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada endangered, because
    of glacial retreat and its effect on the environment of the parks.
    Together they are known as Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park,
    and are covered by a 1995 treaty as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    Dr.
    Daniel Fagre, a federal research scientist based at Glacier National
    Park in Montana, says that in 1850, the park had 150 glaciers. Today,
    because of global warming, there are only 27 left, with estimates that
    all the glaciers in the park will be gone by the year 2030.
    “The
    glaciers respond [to global warming] by having less snow in the winter
    and then they start melting earlier in the spring,” he explains. “The
    summers, of course, are always a period when they melt but these are
    now longer.”
    The glacier situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon, says Fagre.
    “It
    would take a pretty substantial climate change to bring our glaciers
    back. We would have to get a lot of moisture and it would have to get
    cooler,” says Fagre. “So I don’t think that we’ll see much of a change
    in the next few decades.”
    “The trees are responding, the soil
    carbon, the streams, all of these are responding [to the climate
    change], but it’s harder to measure those and hard to see them than it
    is the glaciers,” says Fagre.
    Glaciers, he says, are important “in
    nurturing some our streams in late summer and there’re a lot of aquatic
    organisms that live in those streams, so we’ll be using this as an
    instructive example and studying it so we understand how eco-systems in
    general respond to climate change.”
    The mean summer temperature at
    Glacier Park has risen by about 3 degrees Fahrenheit over the past
    century, according to the USGS.
    Declaring Waterton-Glacier in danger
    would require the World Heritage Committee to identify ways of
    mitigating effects of climate change, said Erica Thorson, an Oregon law
    professor who wrote the petition.
    Also up for discussion at this
    week’s meeting at the headquarters of the U.N. Educational, Scientific
    and Cultural Organization are reports of environmental degradation at
    Nepal’s Sagarmatha National Park, which includes Mount Everest;
    Huarascan National Park in Peru; Great Barrier Reef in Australia; and
    the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System in Central America.