Vanishing glaciers Glacier Photos
Well its 8-11-11 and still no word on when the Glacier Overlook Trail will open. Will update this page hopefully sometime in September with photos from 2011. In 2006 Grinnell Glacier lost about 9% of its surface area. The rocks on the icebergs from Grinnell Glacier are the size of small houses. According to the USGS Thirteen of those glaciers have shown marked recession and some of the more intensely studied glaciers have proved to be just 1/3 of their estimated maximum size that occurred at the end of the Little Ice Age (circa 1850). In fact, only 26 named glaciers presently exist of the 150 glaciers present in 1850 and those that do are mere remnants of their previous size. Other glaciers, such as Piegan Glacier, have remained visibly unchanged as a result of their north- northeast aspect and tendency to accumulate wind deposited snow along the Continental Divide. As of 2008 there is currently 16.6 km2 of ice in Glacier National Park.
I took the photo below from Grinnell Glacier overlook in September of 2007. It shows Salamander Glacier, which rests, above Upper Grinnell Lake. 90 years ago Salamander Glacier was part of Grinnell Glacier. Grinnell Glacier is one of the more famous of the vanishing glaciers. At the overlook for Grinnell Glacier my first impression was that Salamander Glacier would be the first glacier to vanish of the three glaciers visible at this location. After studying the USGS repeat photo series on Grinnell Glacier I realized that Grinnell Glacier was much more likely to be the first to go from this trio. Gem Glacier which is not shown in this photo series is the third glacier visible from the Grinnell Glacier overlook. Salamander Glacier shows the least change over the last one hundred years.
The photo below was taken in August of 2006 it shows a small part of Upper Grinnell Lake filled with massive icebergs. The rocks on the icebergs are the size of small houses. In 2006 Grinnell Glacier lost about 9% of its surface area. This is what remains of Grinnell Glacier. Notice that Salamander Glacier has a covering of snow in the 2006 photo of Grinnell Glacier and is essentially bare ice in the 2007 photo. The foreground grass visible in the 2006 photo of Grinnell Glacier and Upper Grinnell Lake would have been under the glacier in 1938. I was unable to hike into Grinnell Glacier for the last two years due to injuries from a car accident. At this point I'm hoping to be able to make this hike in mid July with luck and lots of pain. As of January 1, 2011 snowfall in Montana was 46% greater then the same date the year before. It has been steadily snowing throughout January of 2011 so there is a good chance that the Grinnell Glacier Trail won't open fully until mid July this year. The Cracker Lake Trail opens up earlier then the Grinnell Glacier Trail, although Siyeh Glacier is long gone the 'glacier flur' also known as glacier flour in Cracker Lake is the most spectacular of all the glacier fed lakes in Glacier National Park.
Photo of Grinnell Glacier during the fast melt of 2006
Swiftcurrent Glacier 2007 from Swiftcurrent Pass Trail. The views from the Swiftcurrent Trail are some of the most spectacular in Glacier National Park.
View of the Piegan Glacier from the Piegan Pass Trail on a smoky summer day in August of 2007. This is one the easiest hike to get a view of a glacier in Glacier National Park. Piegan Glacier is also the furthest away from the trail.
Photo of Piegan Glacier from the Piegan Pass Trail. A heavy haze of smoke from the forest fires of 2007, obscures the view of Piegan Glacier. Due to Piegan Glacier facing north it is the least changed of any of the glaciers in Glacier National Park.
Siyeh Glacier ceased to be classified as a glacier sometime in the early 1960's. At this point what remains is a small permanent snow field. Cracker Lake's turquoise color is the brightest of any of the glacier, or former glacier fed lakes within Glacier National Park. At this point I have been unable to locate photo's of Siyeh Glacier from the early 1900's, the below from USGS was taken in 1951. At that point Siyeh Glacier was fast approaching extinction.