Monday, January 5, 2015

The Athabasca Glacier

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The Athabasca Glacier is part of an area called the Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park, Alberta. The largest ice field in the Canadian Rockies, it gets about 7 metres of precipitation per year; most of this falls as snow.

Over the past 125 years, the mouth of this slow-moving river of ice has moved back 1.5 kilometers and lost half its volume. 

The cairn marks the toe of the glacier as of 1992, just 22 years ago. The recent retreat of this most visited glacier in North America is obvious. Some experts predict that this slow-flowing ice river, currently one kilometer wide and in places 300 metres deep, will vanish within a century.

This glacier lies just off the Icefields Parkway that joins Jasper to Banff. Alberta. It is located close to the roof of North America; from Saskatchewan River Crossing, water drains away to the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans.

A little further south, the Milk River system arises in Montana, enters southern Alberta, then turns once more on its long voyage to drain into the Gulf of Mexico through the Mississippi River system.

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