“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Polebridge in Glacier County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)

When the Glaciers Melt

When the Glaciers Melt Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 20, 2011
1. When the Glaciers Melt Marker
Inscription. Only about 26 glaciers remain from the 150 that were here in 1850. That number is dropping steadily. If the weather is clear, you might be able to see what is left of five glaciers in the Many Glacier Valley. As climate changes, both the visible and not-so-visible features of the park will be altered. In just a couple of decades, the view from this spot may look dramatically different.

As climate warms, rainfall and snowfall are also likely to change. This will affect soil moisture, runoff and stream flow, as well as landscape disturbance processes such as fire and avalanches. These kind of changes will impact park ecosystems.

Climate plays an important role in determining what flora and fauna exist in a habitat. Every species has a temperature range in which it can thrive. For example, the elevation where trees stop growing, known as treeline, is strongly related to temperature and moisture. As climate warms, more trees wil encroach on alpine meadows and treeline will migrate to higher elevations.

Changes in the distribution of forest and other vegetation may cause animals to seek higher ground or to migrate north to find suitable habitat. Some impacts from climate change may not be well understood but it is clear that the landscape we see today will look different in the future.

When the Glaciers Melt Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 20, 2011
2. When the Glaciers Melt Marker
Rising Temperature

It's Getting Hotter Faster!

In the last 100 years the Earth's surface temperature has increased about 1.5F, with accelerated warming in the last few decades. The graph shows the global temperature trend compared to the long-term average. Since the 1970s temperatures have become markedly warmer (shown as red bars) compared to cooler than average years in the early part of the 20th century (shown in blue bars). Recent years have been warmer yet, with the 6 hottest years on record, in rank order, being 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2004.

We're Not Just Losing Ice!
Habitat Change = Potential Species Loss

The changes that are taking place will have a direct effect on many plants and animals. Vegetation from lower elevations and latitudes may move to higher ground and more northerly locations as climate warms. Wildlife populations will likely be forced to migrate along with the changing vegetation. In cold alpine environments, with no place to go, some species may not survive.
Location. 48° 47.792′ N, 113° 39.391′ W. Marker is in Polebridge, Montana, in Glacier County. Marker can be reached from Many Glacier Road (State Highway 3) 11.8 miles west of U.S. 89. Touch for map. Marker is east of Many Glacier Hotel. Marker is
Many Glacier Hotel image. Click for full size.
By Dan Fisher, July 20, 2011
3. Many Glacier Hotel
in this post office area: Polebridge MT 59928, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 2 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Overnight in the Wilderness (a few steps from this marker); Horns (approx. 7.6 miles away).
More about this marker. On the bottom center is a graph of "Global Surface Temperature Trend – 1880 to 2006" with the caption,"2007 (dashed bar on right) is on track to be the hottest year on record."
Also see . . .  Glacier National Park. U.S. National Park Service (Submitted on July 26, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 
Categories. Natural Features
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 26, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 441 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 26, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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