Metro Vancouver’s very last remaining glacier is disappearing rapid


Metro Vancouver’s previous surviving glacier, a resource of community fresh drinking water, will vanish in much less than 30 many years, experts say.

Experts say local climate change is accelerating the demise of the Coquitlam Glacier. The ice pack, positioned 40 kilometers north of Vancouver, sits on a mountain far more than 1,400 meters higher.

In the course of the hotter months, runoff from what is left of the glacier provides about two per cent of the h2o in the Coquitlam Reservoir. Despite the fact that not a important resource of drinking water, for scientists surveying its drop, the glacier’s disappearing act is a symptom of the pressure climate change is putting on local sources of fresh new h2o.

“It truly is just one of our greatest weather indicators of adjust, and I never be expecting it to past earlier 2050,” explained Dave Dunkley, a geoscientist with Metro Vancouver.

The upper segment of the Coquitlam Glacier on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Researchers be expecting the glacier to vanish wholly by 2050. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The Coquitlam Glacier is the very last of the glaciers that fashioned in the Metro Vancouver space through the Little Ice Age, a period of regional cooling in Europe and North The us that started in the 1300s and lasted until eventually about 1850.

In accordance to Dunkley, it has been the only glacier in the region for about 100 yrs. He estimates there were the moment about 6 to 10 more compact glaciers in the region for the duration of the ice age.

Dunkley says the posture of the Coquitlam Glacier guarded it from disappearing like the other glaciers that formed for the duration of that interval. It has two pockets — a sheet of ice sloped around the mountaintop and the reduced glacier nestled in a bowl of rock. Over the several years, the rock formations shading the ice bowl have supplied relative safety versus fierce daylight.

Peter Marshall, a field hydrologist with Metro Vancouver, is measuring the glacier’s retreat. He says even although its contribution to the reservoir is not sizeable, it is a harbinger of the water-organizing troubles the region might facial area in the future.

Geoscientist Dave Dunkley stands near the Coquitlam Glacier on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

“This is our previous remaining glacier in Metro Vancouver’s h2o provide regions, and it’s disappearing immediately. As soon as it really is absent, we rely strictly on precipitation and runoff from snowmelt,” explained Marshall.

Metro Vancouver introduced this month that h2o ranges in the region’s reservoirs are lower than common as summer time conditions lengthen effectively into October. The location claims the lower drinking water concentrations are the outcome of a lack of precipitation since Aug.1, merged with a 20 for every cent maximize in h2o use throughout a warmer drop time.

Marshall suggests the glacier’s decrease also affects h2o levels in creeks and rivers, impacting fish and wildlife.

“Drinking water managing off from the glacier is the water we are looking at in a ton of our dry creeks and rivers. With no these glaciers, some creeks could possibly run dry in intervals of temperature like this.”

Watch | Metro Vancouver experts present how the glacier is retreating:

Metro Vancouver’s previous glacier is melting away

The Coquitlam Glacier’s disappearing act is a symptom of the strain weather alter is putting on our sources of fresh h2o.

‘An endangered species’

Dunkley has been photograph-documenting the ice pack for much more than 15 yrs and says it is shrunk significantly appropriate ahead of his eyes.

“When I to start with arrived listed here in 2006, this was lined in ice,” he reported, referring to the dry, rocky terrain overlooking the glacier’s upper pocket. He claims the thinning ice is getting much more exposed to the solar and predicts that now “it is going to decay rather promptly.”

The Coquitlam Glacier in 2006 reveals a bigger elevation of ice resembling a bulge. Experts from Metro Vancouver say it has due to the fact flattened. (Submitted by Dave Dunkley)

Peter Marshall, with Metro Vancouver’s Setting and Watersheds Group, located the ice experienced receded by two to 5 meters in a issue of two months since his past excursion to the glacier.

“A whole lot of that is seasonal snowmelt at the top rated of the glacier, but it can be certainly having difficulties in these warm and dry problems.”

As for the lessen glacier, not only has it retreated, Dunkley says the ice mass has missing elevation given that he 1st started off surveying it in 2006.

“The glacier is flattening. We’ve lost up to 10 meters in thickness due to the fact I initially arrived right here.”

He says the reduce glacier made use of to have a bulge, but he favored its latest form to a pancake.

Georgia Dixon, left, and Peter Marshall, a area hydrologist, stand close to the Coquitlam Glacier on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Since the close of the Minimal Ice Age, Dunkley estimates the reduce glacier has retreated by around 720 meters.

Official estimates provided by Metro Vancouver exhibit the decreased glacier’s elevation among 2018 and 2022 has reduced by about four to 20 meters, though the upper glacier has receded by 8 to 10 meters.

“It truly is an endangered species, and it is really an iconic impression of what is actually occurring in the area,” he reported.

A depleting drinking water source

Warmer October weather has resulted in a heavier flow of downstream runoff from the glacier, but Marshall suggests it can be not enough to sufficiently health supplement the reservoir’s reduced drinking water provide.

As the stream flows out of the glacier to make its way to the Coquitlam River, he suggests substantially of the drinking water will soak into the floor before earning it into the river, with some trickling into the reservoir.

Marshall suggests h2o ranges in the reservoir rely closely on precipitation.

“And we know, our precipitation patterns are switching with local climate alter.”

He claims the area actually lucked out this calendar year with a deeper snowpack, which resulted in delayed snowmelt into the reservoir.

“That was the conserving grace of the summer time. If we had weak snowpack or no snow, it would be quite demanding periods ideal now.”

Area hydrologist Peter Marshall stands in front of the reduce pocket of the Coquitlam Glacier on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Provided drought disorders in areas across the province, the BC federal government says it is building a watershed safety tactic for risk-free fresh h2o.

“We are serving to to increase organizing for scarce h2o sources and expanding our comprehending of glacial soften by growing monitoring networks for stream movement, groundwater and snow,” it stated in a statement, referring to the Local weather Preparedness and Adaptation Approach (CPAS),

For Marshall, the glacier’s vanishing act is a wake-up contact.

“I think it is really essential to search at this and understand how quickly these assets are disappearing,” stated Marshall. “We can believe about how we can preserve our ingesting h2o as we shift into the long term.”

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