It’s no secret that glaciers in Montana and the world over are disappearing. But now a new study put a number to the losses, at least for the Western U.S.
Of the West’s 612 officially named glaciers, 52 no longer qualify as glaciers. That’s according to a study released last month by Portland State University.
The research, published in the journal Earth System Science Data, identified 1,331 glaciers, a slowly moving mass of ice with an area of at least 25 acres, and 1,176 perennial snowfields, a stationary area of snow and ice that persists all year. Of the 612 named glaciers inventoried by the U.S. Geological Survey throughout the 1900s, PSU researchers found that 52 had stopped moving and become snowfields, were too small to be considered glaciers, or were mere rocky debris interspersed with ice.
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Icebergs float on the small lake now filling most of Grinnell Glacier’s basin below Mount Gould. As late as the mid-20th century, Salamander Glacier in the upper left was still attached to Grinnell before global warming made them