Have the glaciers on Glacier Peak receded in recent years?



Comparison of Vista/Ermine Glaciers on Glacier Peak


Glacier Peak viewed from Miners Ridge Lookout.  Photo by Mike Hardy, September 2008.  The image shows comparison extent of visible glacier from similar photos taken in Septembers of years noted.  The center glacier is Ermine Glacier, the right glacier is Vista Glacier.  These glaciers are northwest of Glacier Peak.  The photo view is looking south.

Comparison of Whitechuck glacier mid 80's to 2005
A comparison of the change of the Whitechuck glacier from the mid 1980's to an aerial photo from 2005.  This glacier is south of Glacier Peak, but the photo view is looking south and somewhat east.
Here are some comparison photos taken from locations around Glacier Peak in the Glacier Peak Wilderness of Washington.  The earliest photos are from September of 1971, from an airplane.  The more recent photos were taken by me on various hikes in the area of Glacier Peak.  The photos have comparable viewing angles and give an unscientific but interesting reference to the changes in the glaciers in the past 30 to 50 years.

The rainfall for the May-Aug of 1971 was very near average in the Darrington records, as was the similar period of 2003.  The summer of 2004 was unusually dry and warm through mid August.  The images in this web page do not match the quality of the originals, but in each case the photos have comparable amounts of bare ice showing to indicate an accurate extent of the glacier at these times.

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Whitechuck glacier in 1973 and 2004  These photos were taken by David Bowie and show almost the same location viewed 31 years later.  The previous winter seasons for both photos had similar weather.

A view from the northeast, the Honeycomb glacier.
 Significant changes are shown.

A view from the same angle looking at the Cool and Chocolate Glaciers

A view from the direction of Miners Ridge, looking at Vista Glacier

Another view from the north showing 50 years time lapse.  Notice Vista Glacier, which is the glacier on the left.

A comparison between 2003 and 2004 as viewed from Miners Ridge

Looking at Kennedy and Scimitar Glaciers  These two photos are from different angles, so comparison is tricky and not decisive.

Another view of Scimitar Glacier  These two photos compare 1977 and 2003 from closely comparable angles.

Image Lake is shown in these two photos and shows the tree growth on the southern edge of the lake since probably sometime in the 1950's.  The trees are doing well at this location.

Nichols College has a very good study and reference: NORTH CASCADE GLACIER CLIMATE PROJECT.
There are a number of very informative links on the Nichols College study and
Specifically they have done a study of the Whitechuck Glacier.

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