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News – Canada's dry lakes and dust storms “Warning for the planet”

CLIMATE | Early Warning System CBC News Sunday, October 28, 2018, 16:17 – Gwenn Flowers, a glaciologist, is trampled back…

CLIMATE | Early Warning System

CBC News

Sunday, October 28, 2018, 16:17 – Gwenn Flowers, a glaciologist, is trampled back and forth across a large glacier in southwest Yukon and draws a radar device mounted on skis behind her.

“We as Canadians are the managers of about one third of the world’s mountains and icebergs, so this is our responsibility,” says Flowers.

The dramatic changes to the ice crusaders in Yukon are an early warning about what climate change may mean for the rest of the planet, scientists say. And flowers look a lot of anxiety that is reflected in the state of the ice.

(See also:
Melt glaciers trigger the world’s largest tsunamis)

Glaciologist Gwenn Flowers expands equipment over Yukon’s Kaskawulsh glacier to control its depth. (Susan Ormiston / CBC)

The professor at B.C. Simon Fraser University loves ice cream. She has been doing field studies in St. Petersburg. Elias Mountains every summer for the past 13 years.

Her small group of three charts the Kaskawulsh glacier – 70 kilometers long and five kilometers wide – as it fights under the double threat of a warming climate and a decreasing snow cover.

Research slows down to an inevitable conclusion: The glacier can not compensate for the volume it loses now each year.

Radar Boxes Blossoms on skis are especially adapted for ice and send signals deep into the glacier core and bounce from the bedrock. In place, the team has found ice more than 800 meters deep.

The team’s research shows that the ice is rapidly disappearing, but loses about half a meter a year, says Flowers. And the huge glacier returns.

St. Elias mountain cruise Yukon, B.C. and Alaska is less famous than the Canadian rockies and its icefields. But ice protection is six times bigger, making it the largest icefield in the world beyond Greenland and Antarctica.

Flowers and her team try to get a better picture of how the glacier changes and what it means for a bigger environment.

“As a Canadian, we are in charge of being a manager of this ice, I think we could do better. I think that Arctic science should be a priority.” I think the understanding of our land and navy should be a Priority National, “Flowers say.

(See also:
NASA detects three things that affect the earth’s spinning.


A report from 2018 entitled Mountain State, suggests that the glaciers in St Eliasbergen lose more ice than in any other Canadian Alpine area. For 30 years from 1977 to 2007, Kaskawulsh lost 17 square kilometers of ice.

Temperatures there have already risen 2 C over the past 50 years. They are expected to increase in at least three more degrees at the turn of the century, unless things change.

Gwenn Flowers says the ice on the Kaskawulsh glacier thins quickly and loses about half a meter a year. (Susan Ormiston / CBC)

Yukon saw a particularly hot July last summer, the warmest of five years with several warning warnings issued.

Leading climate change scientists recently denied that the world has only a dozen years to slow down the heat on the planet or risk worse droughts, floods and extreme heat. The authors of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say that urgent and unforeseen changes are needed to keep global warming below 1.5 C.

“What the glacier and ice sheets do is a big difference to global sea levels and make a big difference to local environments where they form a water source, “says Blommor.


About Kluane Lake, two research stations monitor changes in Yukon’s climate and glaciers.

Andy Williams came to the area more than 40 years ago to handle the Kluane Lake Research Station. He also founded a small airline that moved researchers, hikers and tourists to the icefields.

He observed huge changes in the ice during that time. While the glaciers naturally go forward and return, he says, it is “not at this rate.”

And the changes in this region reflect what is happening in the Andes or Himalayas, “where there are millions of people who rely on steady flow from the glaciers to provide irrigation and drinking water.” If they shrink too fast, “the results are catastrophic” , he says.

The faster thinning of the great ice in Yukon already causes dramatic consequences further down the mountains, as in the juvenile Kluane Lake, Yukon’s largest, bordering the Kluane National Park and Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For 300 years, glacial drainage was the main source of water for the Kluane Lake, which flows through the Slims River. But in May 2016, the Kluane Sea levels fell sharply. The problem was a case of “piracy” – incredibly rare and hugely significant. The end or end of the Kaskawulsh glacier had proved enough that a glacial lake fed Slimsälven was suddenly emptied when the glacier outflow found a new direction to a new river.

It left the Slims River with some water as it made the way down the mountain to Kluane Lake.

Bob Dickson, Chief of Kluane First Nation, stands on the dry bed of what used to be a glacier-fed river. (Susan Ormiston / CBC)

That summer, the Kluane lake fell 1.7 meters, and its levels are low.

In Kluane First Nation communities in Burwash and Destruction Bay, the shoreline pulled back, limiting boat access to traditional fishing spots. Earlier spawning areas for whitefish and trout have emerged over the watertight.

“We can not change it,” said Bob Dickson, the chief.

“We must live with this lake in a different way. Hunting areas, fishing areas, everything changes. So we have to learn again.”

Alaska Highway, one of the major northern roads from Yukon to Alaska, halves Slims River Valley. Now, large dust storms often dodge the road, which forces motor homes to slow to a crawl. The river bed, usually covered with water at the end of August, looks stretched out.

A camper is run through a dust storm on the Alaska Highway where it halves the Slims River Valley. The dust is from a dried river bed that was used to feed the Kaskawulsh glacier.

“You can have dust storms where the whole valley is full of dust, and it’s all the glacier flour, it just blows it,” says Chief Dickson. “They are really terrible, you can not even see.”

Parker Canada monitors the “unforeseen” changes.

“We see a 20 percent difference in the area’s coverage of the Glaciers in the Kluane National Park and Reserve and the rest of the UNESCO World Heritage List [over a 60-year period]”, says Diane Wilson, a field unit superintendent at Parks Canada.

“We’ve never seen it. It’s out of the ordinary.”

“Kluane is an icon. People are so happy to come and visit this wonderful place, but they should know that it’s changing. Climate change feels no limits. “

With files from Mia Sheldon. Thumbnail: The Kaskawulsh Glacier in Yukon’s St. Elias Mountain Region, often called an” iceway. “(Susan Ormiston / CBC)

This article was originally written on
CBC.caby Susan Ormiston.


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