Glacier Park became the USA’s 11th National Park on May 11th 1910 and last week celebrated its 100th birthday, minus around 125 of it’s original glaciers that were thought to have been present a century ago.
Located in northern Montana, this one million acre park incorporates two ranges of the Rocky Mountains, is home to hundred of species of endemic plants and animals and safeguards rare mammals such as the wolverine and lynx. The mountains, which started forming 170 million years ago, are considered to have some of the finest fossilised examples of extremely early life found anywhere on Earth.
However, if current climatic trends persist, Scientists have predicted that the park’s 25 remaining glaciers may disappear within the next decade. Dan Fagre, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist suggests that average temperatures within the park have risen 1.8 times faster than the global average, an impact that is visible in the huge moraine piles left by retreating glaciers, now littering the landscape.
Temperature increases have also been linked to wildfires and diminishing stream-flows, bringing worrying concerns for fish populations and big predators such as grizzly bears and wolves. Rising temperatures have also meant that spring has started arriving about early, causing winter snow to melt earlier and forests to become drier, causing more destructive fires later in the summer.
Around 2 million visitors visit the park each year, with many now lured by the opportunity to see the glaciers before they finally disappear.
Experts warn that the consequences hold further reaching warnings for the future of our global ecosystems. Journalist Nicholas Geranios recently referred to Glacier Park as a ‘harbinger of Earth's future, a laboratory where changes in the environment will likely show up first’.
Photo from planetware.com
Lucy's article was also posted by Responsible Travel