Mount Rainier in Washington is either The snowiest place on earth, Or close to runner-up.From Collected records In the past century, the average annual snowfall in Rainier Paradise was close to 640 inches, or more than 53 feet.
But this summer’s record high temperature triggered rapid snowmelt, making this picturesque mountain look a bit gloomy. This situation prompted the National Park Service to issue warnings to visitors, reminding visitors to observe the mud and boulder-filled mudslides caused by melting snow, which may suddenly flood into the valley.
Dr. Samuel Browder, A pediatric neurosurgeon in Seattle Who works at Seattle Children’s Hospital and University of Washington, Posted a photo on Twitter A scruffy Rainier photographed from an airplane window during a recent flight.
“Significantly reduce snow and glaciers,” wrote Browder, who works at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington. “#Climate emergency It is true.Will be again in the 1990s #Seattle this week. Worry about the future we leave to our children. ”
He made sense.Exceed Two dozen glaciers In the past few decades, the snow-covered area of Mount Rainier has been drastically reduced. International scientists have recently issued a terrible warning that temperatures will continue to rise in the foreseeable future. If we want to curb this trend, we need to take bold actions to reduce carbon emissions.U.S. Congressmen currently Negotiate a key spending plan This includes key climate clauses.
Rainier Glacier is just one of the obvious signs of warming. Every year, the glacier is covered by winter snow. In spring and summer, part of the snow will melt, but at higher altitudes, more snow will survive and be covered by new snow. As the cycle repeats, glaciers form. But they are not fixed functions. Scientists describe the glacier moving like a conveyor belt, slowly sliding down the mountain, losing snow at lower altitudes, and building glaciers at higher altitudes.
As temperatures continue to rise, the process of global glaciers increasing and decreasing snow cover has tilted too far to red.
Scott Beason, a geologist in Mount Rainier National Park, said in a report that in Mount Rainier, the area covered by glaciers has been reduced by a third, and since 1900, glaciers have The thickness has decreased by 45%. Recent news stories.
However, this winter is full of hope. The peak of the volcano started to receive above-average snowfall from January and continued until early summer. Then in late June, a record-breaking hot dome struck the Pacific Northwest.
“The unusual thing about that heat wave is that it was really hot, and it was hot at different heights or altitude ranges,” said David Shane, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington.
Shean said that for days or even weeks, the freezing point hovered at 18,000 feet-well above the 14,411 feet at the top of Mt. Rainier. The snow began to melt quickly, pouring down from the mountain.
“The glacier has no choice but to retreat to a colder high altitude area,” Shane said.
This can cause other potential problems. As the glaciers receded, they exposed loose rocks and boulders at the bottom.
“These things are mature enough to become part of a mudslide,” said Weston Salem, A geophysicist and seismologist at the Cascade Volcano Observatory. “The added ingredient is water.”
Water sometimes comes from the so-called “glacial eruption flood”, that is, a large amount of water is suddenly released from the glacier, which may trigger mudslides.
These events are not common. The Tahoma Creek drainage system on the southwest side of Rainier is the most frequent location for mudslides on the mountain, with at least 32 incidents occurring since 1967. Two years, The debris flow in the drainage ditch carried a lot of rocks and sediments, causing the roads in the area to be closed.
Signs of imminent water flow include rapid changes in water levels in streams and rivers, ground shaking, and loud roars. It is recommended that people flee to higher ground at least 200 feet from the bottom of the valley.National parks last week Twitter reminder During the recent high temperature period, tourists should pay attention to the flow.
“Yes [debris flows] Because climate change is more common? I can’t say for sure,” Thelen said. “I can say that the loose rock material at the bottom of the glacier is more exposed than it was 30 or 100 years ago. That part of the equation is there. “
Researchers recently started installing updates Mount Rainier Volcano Mud Detection System, A set of monitors used to detect larger, dangerous and rare volcanic mudslides called volcanic mudslides. Since volcanic mud flows only occur every few hundred years, more frequent mud flows will help fine-tune and calibrate the system. In fact, Thelen hopes to catch up with the current by early September, when he needs to remove some of his seismographs and microphones before the heavy snow returns.
The snow will come back. While climate change is warming the world, it is also changing precipitation patterns, causing more rain and snow in some places. Changing weather patterns may increase Rainier’s snow cover, but it may also cause greater rainstorms and wash away snow and ice.
Even if the earth warms up, despite shrinking, Mount Rainier, which stretches towards the sky, should be able to maintain many of its glaciers for a period of time. The prospects for low-elevation glaciers in the Cascade Mountains and Olympic Mountains are less optimistic.
“In our glacier at the lower 48, Mount Rainier is in very good condition,” Shane said. “The glacier will retreat, but it won’t disappear anytime soon.”