Ground Truth Trekking

Grewingk Glacier in winter

Snowy peaks protrude into the sun above shadowed Grewingk Glacier. Why is Grewingk Glacier retreating? The short answer is climate change, but this misses a lot of nuance. Because Grewingk calves into a lake (which was once just a thick piece of the glacier) it is in some ways responding to climate change that happened a century ago - once the lake began forming, the heating of the water by the air helped melt the front of the glacier, causing it to retreat. But warming since then has accelerated that, by melting the surface of the glacier and causing the lake to get even warmer than it otherwise would have. Also, the snow in the mountains may well have increased as a result of climate change, since warmer air carries more moisture, it can lead to more snow at high elevations. On balance, Grewingk is retreating, and very quickly. Planetwide, only a tiny minority of glaciers are advancing.

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