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SOURCE: K5 News Seattle

DATE: October 8, 2019

SNIP: The glaciers of the Olympic Mountains and Cascades are not only breath-taking to look at, they’re also critical to our environment as we know it.

“Melting glaciers feed high alpine streams and ecosystems, and supply water for agriculture,” explained Andrew Fountain, a glaciologist at Portland State University.

There’s about 5,000 glaciers in the Western U.S. and according to Fountain they are all disappearing.

“Yeah, it’s going to be a different world.”

For more than a decade, Fountain and researchers from across the west have studied the thousands of glaciers.

Most recently, they looked at the ones in Washington’s Olympic National Park.

“We use satellites that photograph the earth as well as aerial photographs,” explained Fountain. “From that we can track how glaciers are growing or shrinking.”

And they found they are all shrinking.

Take for example the Lillian Glacier. In 1905, the glacier was expansive. But an aerial photo taken in 2010 showed the glacier is nearly gone.

“With business as usual, the glaciers will disappear probably by 2070, 2080,” said Fountain.

And the result of all that ice melt?

“We won’t have those glaciers replenishing our water supply during the late summer when we don’t have any rain, so those streams will be more subject to drought.”