US Glaciers Shrinking Fast

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2009 7:39 AM CDT
The South Cascade glacier in Washington state has lost nearly half of its volume and a quarter of its mass over the last 50 years.   (US Geological Survey)
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(Newser) – Three major glaciers in Alaska and Washington state have rapidly shrunk over the last 50 years due to global warming—and the melting is accelerating as the climate changes, notes a government study released yesterday. The glaciers, chosen as "benchmarks" because their conditions closely parallel those of thousands of others, are in different climates and elevations but all have lost large amount of ice as conditions become warmer and drier, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The latest data "certainly says that the place where these glaciers are, the climate is not supportive of healthy glaciers anymore," one of the lead researchers says. The three glaciers have been closely studied by US Geological Survey scientists for more than 50 years; while earlier shrinkage could be explained by shifting ocean conditions, the researchers say the acceleration suggests that climate change is overwhelming natural cycles.