ESRM 401, Spring 2010
Spring Comes to the Cascades
Instructors: Tom Hinckley & Julie Combs

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Climate Change: A Critical Issue for the 21st Century (03-23-07)

I will let the following images speak for themselves. From your perspective as a student in ESRM 401, I would like you to think of each of the sites that we visit and how that site might have looked in 1890 and how it might look in 2090. You should be able to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the drivers of climate change?
  2. If one of the drivers, carbon dioxide, has increased from ~270 ppm to a present day value of 380+ ppm, how might this affect plants?
  3. What are the other known or projected changes and how might these changes affect plants?
I have chosen the South Cascade Glacier as it probably has the best record (both actual data and photographic) of any of the Cascade Glaciers. Above picture is from 1928. The glacial volume was estimated to be 0.32 km3 at that time. Here is an image from the same location in 2000. Glacial volume was 0.16 km3 or half.

From the USGS Web Site, the following information was found

This represents a slightly different view in 1979. Volume about 0.20 km3. And then in 2003. Volume likely less than 0.15 km3.

Great web page on "Recent Glacial and Climate Variations in the Pacific Northwest" by Stephen C. Porter (Professor Quatenary Research Center, UW).

Recent article in the Seattle Times (March 3, 2006) referred to the estimated losses (period 2002 - 2005) of ice from both Antarctica (36 cubic miles of fresh water produced per year or 152±80 km3 per year; source Science Express) and Greenland (38 cubic miles of water per year). To provide some perspective, LA uses about 1.2 cubic miles of water per year; all of the glaciers on Mt. Rainier have about 0.9 cubic miles of water in them.

Ok, now you are impressed, here are a number of sources that you might want to examine or read.

Lectures from the College of Forest Resources' Denman Series

Article in Science on "the West Goes Dry" (2004WestGoesDryScience.pdf)

Series of mid-February 2006 articles on melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Resources for 2007


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