RICHLAND, Wash. – New research shows that glaciers on Mount Adams are shrinking at a faster rate than those on neighboring peaks.
Over the past century the glaciers have shrunk almost in half on Mount Adams in southwest Washington. Compare that to Mount Hood, which has lost about one-third of its glaciers, and Mount Rainier, which has lost about one-fourth.
Portland State University geologist Andrew Fountain says he’s not sure why there’s such a difference in the Northwest’s glacial decline. Perhaps, he says, geography has something to do with it.
“Mount Adams is just a little bit east of the crest of the Cascades, such that maybe it’s not getting quite as much precipitation as the other mountains, and maybe it’s a little bit warmer in the summertime, so the glaciers are retreating a little bit faster,” says Fountain
Smaller glaciers mean more drought conditions for alpine plants. It’s possible that further glacial shrinkage can be prevented by curbing greenhouse gas emissions, Fountain says. But for the next several decades, we’re on a track that we cannot get off.