Athabasca Glacier could disappear within generation, says manager
May 26, 2014
May 26, 2014
Tourists walk on the Athabasca Glacier, part of the Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park, on May 7, 2014. The park’s manager says the glacier could disappear within one generation. (The Canadian Press/Jess McIntosh).
What’s believed to be the most-visited glacier in North America is losing more than five metres of ice every year and is in danger of completely disappearing within a generation, says a Parks Canada manager.
The Athabasca Glacier is the largest of six ice sheets that form part of the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park. It is a popular destination for tourists from around the world who climb aboard huge snow coaches to get an up-close look.
While it receives about seven metres of snowfall annually, the glacier has been slowly shrinking for about 150 years.
“It’s astonishing,” John Wilmshurst, Jasper National Park’s resource conservation manager, said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“Every year we drive stakes five metres deep into the glacier in the fall. We have to return and re-drill them in mid-summer because a lot of those stakes on the Athabasca Glacier, the one that a lot of people go visit, will be lying flat on the ice at that time.
“We’re losing at least five metres a year on the surface of that glacier.”
Bob Sandford, chairman of the Canadian Partnership Initiative of the UN Water for Life Decade, said it’s “mind boggling” because not only is the glacier receding — it’s also becoming more shallow.
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