Glacier Retreat, Glacier National Park, view Northwest from Dawson Pass
On the road in the Northwest of America.


According to Dr. Steve Running, professor of ecology at
the College of Forestry and Conservation of the University
of Montana and one of the lead authors of the most recent
IPCC (co-recipient with Al Gore of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize)
report on Climate Change, the resident glaciologists at
Glacier National Park now estimate that the Park will lose
all its ice fields by 2020. (Down from a former estimate of 2030.)

Similarly, the estimate for the Alps, according to the Zurich-based
World Glacier Monitoring Service, has been revised from 2050
down to 2037. The European glaciers have also been hit by dry
and hot summers, the two primary causes of retreat. 2003,
with its record high temperatures, saw on average an unprecedented
2.13 meters (7 feet) loss of ice thickness. And in 2005, massive
summer runoffs of melt water caused wide-spread flooding.

Glaciers are not just objects of rugged, pristine beauty, or
opportunities for summer skiing fun and mountaineering;
Glaciers are also—all the Earth's estimated 160,000 of them—
the world's largest source of fresh water, second only to the Poles.
I like to see them as a kind of giant watershed savings account,
where precipitation is stored up, for learner, drier times. But now,
most—like in the picture above—are vanishing before our eyes.
Reason enough, it seems to me, to pause and consider why.

Steve Running is not only a brilliant ecologist; he is also a charming
public speaker. Download an MP3 of a recent talk given at the Univeristy
of Montana, Missoula, by Dr. Running on Climate Change which he calls,
5 Stages of Climate Grief [10.3 Mb] at:

View the SLIDESHOW for this talk at:

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Photograph by Cliff Crego © 2008
(created: I.6.2008)