UNBC Student Says Glaciers are Retreating
Glaciers are a focus for a UNBC student who started her study during her undergraduate degree.
Lyssa Maurer’s found that the growth of BC's glaciers ended in the early 20th century after expanding for 10 thousand years..
A glacier exhibit is now in the Bulkley Valley Museum outlining the Kathlyn and Gulch glaciers in Smithers. Although Maurer hasn't studied those glaciers, it is evident to members of the museum that the ice is melting and not freezing back. Museum Curator Michelle Reguly says, “There are some photos of it when it is huge and twice the size of an grown man and has been steadily shrinking as the temperature warms up every year and it's always come back though so it's promising..."
Maurer explains, “So Glaciers always advance and retreat but it's important to look at how quickly these things have been happening, because glaciers are an important source of fresh water in not only BC but in the world in general and it's really important to know what they are doing to manage the resources.”
Since glaciers provide freshwater later in the year if they were to all disappear it could be catastrophic for the whole ecosystem. Maurer says, “Because they are ice they melt a little later in the summer and they release cold fresh water later in August and so salmon and all of the fish in the river system are dependent on this flush of cold water later in the summer and same with all of the plants and farming practices we depend on that late summer rush of water.”
Although we can't predict the future we do know that glaciers are getting smaller ... but for now in Smithers the glacier is still a tourist attraction, Reguly explains, “People don't know about it right away so it is a lovely place to discover Smithers, more of a natural beauty of the town and it's just a lovely way to react with the natural environment.”
Maurer compared glaciers from all over Northwest Canada and found that all of the glaciers have been expanding up until about 200 years ago, when they began to retreat.