On Climate Impacts Day, a visit to a vanishing glacier

This post was written by Matt Leonard from the 350.org Actions Team

On Climate Impacts Day, coming up on May 5th, people around the world are holding creative events, big and small, to raise awareness about the connections between climate change, extreme weather, fossil fuels, and the climate impacts we are alread seeing all around us.

In San Francisco, 350.org staff and volunteers are gearing up to head to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, to the Dana Glacier near Yosemite National Park. We’ll be backpacking to Mount Dana, and deploying a massive banner (one of the largest we know of in the history of the environmental movement!) on the glacier, drawing attention to climate impacts near one of the most famous wilderness areas in the world. And across the globe, other volunteers are doing similar events on glaciers and mountains on several continents too!

 Mountain regions are often one of the most visible examples of a changing climate – around the world glaciers are retreating, snowpack is decreasing, and ecosystems are changing rapidly. We’ve been working with glacier experts at the Glaciers of the American West project, learning about the climate change impacts on the mountains in our region. While the Dana Glacier is not one of the more famous glaciers in the world, but it is one that has been well studied, and well-documented, and is in serious decline. Since 1883, photographers have been documenting the glacial retreat, there, and it has lost  nearly 75% of it’s mass.

Glaciers like this play a critical role in our global ecosystem, and human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly accelerating glacial retreat. 70% of the world’s freshwater supplies are stored in glaciers, and these glaciers provide water for billions of people. Our allies at the World Wildlife Fund have a great factsheet about glaciers and climate change at: http://awsassets.panda.org/downloads/glacierspaper.pdf

Here’s a great video about the Dana Glacier and Climate Change, and if you are in the Sierra Nevada area, come join us May 5th! You can sign up for the event at: http://act.climatedots.org/event/impacts_en/2435

 

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