Researchers study Kokanee Glacier

While everyone understands that our climate is changing, we don’t always know how it is affecting our environment.

Ben Pelto (bottom)

While everyone understands that our climate is changing, we don’t always know how it is affecting our environment and what it means for our communities.

This week a team of researchers from the University of Northern BC is on Kokanee Glacier to determine how much snow accumulated over the past winter compared to how much ice melted in the past year.

The five-year study is funded by the Columbia Basin Trust.

Glaciers are one of Canada’s important natural resources, releasing cool plentiful water to mountain streams when seasonal snowpack is depleted. This runoff is important for the safe operation of many local communities and aquatic ecosystems.

PhD student Ben Pelto is heading up the research team under direction of Dr. Brian Menounos, a Canada research chair in glacier change.

“Kokanee is the southernmost glacier in the Columbia region so it is particularly sensitive to climate change,” explained Pelto. “In each year of our study, Kokanee glacier has lost mass or gotten smaller.”

Of the two ingredients which determine glacier health, melt and snowpack, melt is the dominant factor. Hotter, longer summers and earlier springs are leading to increased melt, and it takes well above average snowpack to simply break even, or not lose mass, for glaciers like the Kokanee.

For the past three years, L.V. Rogers student Micah May has been a volunteer member of the team on their twice-a-year field trips. Having travelled to the Arctic and seen the impacts of climate change, May was curious what glaciers could tell us about the health of local ecosystems.

“Glaciers give us early warnings about fundamental changes that are taking place,” said May. “To witness such significant change over a short period of time is humbling, but I am glad to be part of this.”

Pelto will share the story of Kokanee Glacier at this weekend’s water, drought and climate change forum. Pelto and May will also be interviewed for Kootenay Co-Op Radio’s Climate of Change program.

“Our communities need to understand what the changes to our glaciers mean for our future,” said May. “It helps us understand what it might take to slow the rate of change and prepare for what is to come.”

Above left: L.V. Rogers student Micah May helps PhD student Ben Pelto climb out of a pit dug on Kokanee Glacier during last year’s spring research trip to study the impacts of climate change.

 

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Nelson mural festival: ‘a huge act of community’

This year the mural festival became a music festival as well

UPDATED: MV Balfour ferry returns to service

The 65-year-old ferry had been out of action for a month

Nelson author tours unique food book continent-wide

Jon Steinman is the author of Grocery Story: the Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants

Rossland council urges minister to kill Jumbo Glacier Resort project

Mayor writes letter panning ski resort on environmental, legal, and economic grounds

Contempt charge against Balfour logging protesters dropped on technicality

A B.C. Supreme Court justice ruled Cooper Creek Cedar failed to file a contempt application

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Nearly 50% of Canadians experience the ‘post-vacation blues’: poll

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

Couple could go to jail for taking 88 lbs. of Italian sand

Pair said they didn’t know it was illegal to take the sand, which is protected as a public good

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft: RCMP

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Most Read