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Topographic influences on recent changes of very small glaciers in the Monashee Mountains, British Columbia, Canada

  • Christopher M. DeBeer (a1) and Martin J. Sharp (a2)

Abstract

An analysis of the local topographic setting of very small (<0.4 km2) glaciers within a small region of the Monashee Mountains, British Columbia, was conducted to investigate its influence on recent changes in the extent of these glaciers. Net changes in glacier extent were determined from a detailed manual comparison of remotely sensed imagery acquired in 1951, 2001 and 2004. Most of the 86 glaciers included in the study showed no observable net change in area over the study period, while six glaciers retreated, four disappeared entirely and only one advanced. Indices derived to characterize elements of the local topographic setting that might affect the local mass balance suggest that most of the glaciers are situated in locations that favor ice preservation by enhancing mass input and/or reducing ablation rates. Glaciers situated in less favorable settings generally either decreased in area or disappeared. The results suggest that most of the glaciers studied have retreated as far as they are likely to under the climatic conditions of the late 20th century.

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