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Volume loss from lower Peyto Glacier, Alberta, Canada, between 1966 and 2010

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Abstract:

Mass loss from mountain glaciers contributes to sea-level rise and reduces freshwater availability in glacier-fed river basins, with negative effects on hydropower generation, agriculture and the health of aquatic ecosystems. In this study, we determine the volume of lower Peyto Glacier, Alberta, Canada, from ground-penetrating radar surveys in 2008–10, and compare our volume estimate with previous estimates from 1966 and 1984. The long-term record of mass-balance estimates on Peyto Glacier highlights Peyto's importance as an 'index' glacier for the region. We calculate a mean volume of (3.39±0.30) × 107 m3 for the glacier snout for the period 2008–10. Glacier volume decreased linearly from 1966 to 2010. If this trend persists, the glacier snout will disappear by ∼2019 and Peyto Glacier will have retreated by ∼1 km. Our results agree with modelling studies, which suggest that Peyto Glacier and other nearby glaciers along the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains will likely lose 80–90% of their present-day volume by 2100.

Keywords: GLACIER FLUCTUATIONS; GLACIER MASS BALANCE; GROUND-PENETRATING RADAR; MOUNTAIN GLACIERS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/2014JoG13J039

Publication date: February 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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