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New UNBC research finds glaciers are declining at significant rate

Recent research conducted by UNBC has suggested that ice masses throughout western North America are in decline.

<who>Photo Credit: UNBC</who>Satellite images showing snout of Klinaklini Glacier in late summer 2000 and 2018, a similar period of time as the current study.

The studies research team included scientists at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), the University of Washington, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Ohio State University and the Université de Toulouse in France.

UNBC's team involved in the study include Dr. Brian Menounos, a professor of Geography and Canada Research Chair in Glacier Change; Assistant Geography Professor Dr. Joseph Shea, and two PhD students Ben Pelto and Christina Tennant.

<who>Photo Credit: UNBC</who>

In order to conduct the study, scientists used archives of high-resolution satellite imagery to create over 15,000 digital elevation models covering glaciers from California to the Yukon. These elevation models were then used to estimate total glacier mass change over the period of study.

It was found that from 2000 to 2018, glaciers in western North America lost 117 Gigatonnes of water. This is enough water to submerge an area the size of Toronto by 10 metres each year.

<who>Photo Credit: UNBC</who>

"Our work provides a detailed picture of the current health of glaciers and ice outside of Alaska than what we've ever had before," said Menounos, the lead author of the paper. “We determined that mass loss dramatically increased in the last 10 years in British Columbia's southern and central Coast mountains, due in part to the position of the jet stream being located south of the US-Canada border.”

The research has been published in Geophysical Research Letters.



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