Nisqually Glacier Advancing

Nisqually Glacier Advancing –
But headline says “State’s shrinking glaciers: Going … going … gone?”

As far as I’m concerned, this article by Seattle Times staff reporter Warren Cornwall is another case of misleading – if not downright dishonest – reporting.

1 Nov 06 — “Like tiny doctors on the belly of a sleeping giant,” Cornwall writes, “three National Park Service workers trudged up the middle of the Nisqually Glacier (on Mt. Rainier in Washington state) stepping over tiny creeks and peering down a dizzying chute where water from the melting glacier wormed into the 300-foot-thick slab of ice.” (See important map below)

“Nearby, a tall plastic pole arced from the ice into the sky. …”The pole is 41 feet long. Six months ago, in April, it was totally buried in snow and ice. On this recent sunny October day, so much snow had melted that only a few inches of the pole remained buried.

Read that again. “… in April the pole was buried in snow and ice, and now it’s not.”Well, duh. I’ve heard that it’s rather normal for snow to melt between April and October.

Cornwall goes on to paint a gloomy picture. “Some glaciers are on the verge of disappearing.” “While glaciers have ebbed and flowed through the region for millennia — the land where Seattle now stands was once beneath more than half a mile of ice — scientists say global warming is at least partly to blame this time.”

I’ll bet Seattle residents are rather glad that they’re no longer buried beneath half a mile of ice.

Then Cornwall goes on to moan about the Nisqually Glacier, which he says is melting.

This is absolutely false.

I’ve visited the Nisqually Glacier twice in the past few years, and talked to the Park Rangers. The Rangers say that the Nisqually Glacier is growing thicker and has been doing so since the late 1990s. There are also signs posted at the viewpoints of the Nisqually Glacier saying that, yes, the glacier is indeed advancing.

The Nisqually is growing. Not melting.

The newspaper even included a link to a map from the USGS which, when you look closely, shows that the glacier was higher up the mountain in 1997 than it was in 2002.

In other words, the map shows that the glacier is advancing. And yet, the newspaper’s words would have you believe just the opposite.

Here’s the map.

See the 1997 terminus?

See the 2002 terminus? It’s lower down the mountain!

The headline says “Rainier’s glaciers are shrinking.”

But the USGS map shows that the Nisqually Glacier is advancing.

Hardly the kind of reporting that would make me trust the Seattle Times.

Read the article for yourself:

Another confirmation that the Nisqually glacier is growing came from the September 2000 issue of Washington Geology.

“In 1931, fearful that the receding glacier would provide insufficient runoff for their newly completed hydroelectric facility, Tacoma City Light began careful measurements of the glacier,” says the article. “Since the mid-1800s, the glacier had receded about 1 kilometer.

“Between 1994 and 1997, the glacier thickened by 17 meters at 2,800-m altitude, indicating probable glacier advance during the first decade of the 21st century.”