What it takes to monitor glaciers in the field for 40 years. (Megan Pelto Illustration)
About Mauri S. Pelto-Science Director
Dr. Pelto has been a professor of environmental science at Nichols College and the director of the North Cascades Glacier Climate Project for 39 years. Pelto’s science research team has recorded the mass balance of numerous glaciers, all of which are retreating due to global warming, which has raised temperatures; which in turn has increased melting and increased the frequency of winter rain and melt events that reduce winter accumulation on North Cascade glaciers. This has led to the retreat of all 47 glaciers we monitor, with four of those glaciers having disappeared. The reduction in volume and area is reducing summer contributions to streamflow.
About Jill Pelto-Art Director
Jill Pelto has spent 14 years working with the project and is
an artist and scientist from New England who grew up loving winter sports and
trips to the mountains. She incorporates scientific research and data into
paintings and prints to communicate environmental changes. Her multi-disciplinary work weaves visual
narratives that reveal the reality of human impacts on this planet. She
completed both her B.A. degrees in Studio Art and Earth and Climate Science and
her M.S. focused on studying the stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet at the
University of Maine, spending two field seasons at a remote camp in the
southern Transantarctic Mountains.. She is excited about continuing to document the change in North
Cascade glaciers that she has witnessed each of the last ten years — through science and art.
Glaciers have a powerful impact on the North Cascades of Washington. These natural reservoirs did provide 25% of the North Cascade regions total summer supply in the 1980s. Today this amount has diminished significantly. Due to climate change, the glaciers will continue to retreat in the foreseeable future. The reduction in area will continue to lead to declines in summer glacier runoff.
White River Glacier
Lower Curtis Glacier
Milk Lake Glacier