Colorado State University glaciologist Dan McGrath is leading a new study examining the small glaciers and perennial snowfields of Rocky Mountain National Park. McGrath describes the project “as an effort to understand the modern health of these iconic features using a range of observations, including ground penetrating radar and terrestrial laser scanning.” This work will build upon previous efforts, including historical photographs dating to the early 1900s and glacier observations made in the 1930s, to understand their historic fluctuations. Together with these new measurements, the study will model the future behavior of these glaciers.
CWEST director Noah Molotch, along with scientists Dominik Schneider and John Knowles, are collaborating with McGrath on this effort. CWEST instrumentation is being used to measure snow accumulation on the glaciers, which due to wind redistribution, is many times the local direct snowfall. McGrath said “although quite small, these glaciers are an important but poorly understood component of the larger alpine ecosystem.” He hopes that this project will provide valuable insight to how these and other small glaciers around the world will respond to a changing climate.
These photos were taken in early May, 2016. Photographers are: Dominik Schneider, Dan McGrath, Jessica Stanley, and Andrew Bliss.