12-05-2015 Bill Baccus: Olympic Glaciers

About the Talk

Glaciers of the Olympic National Park—Past, Present, and Future?

Bill Baccus will present an overview of the Glaciers of the Olympic National Park, where he has worked for 30 years. As you may know, the winter of 2014-15 was one of extremely low snowfall in the Park, which has a direct impact on the glaciers. Is this a harbinger of the future?

Bill will introduce the glacial resources at Olympic National Park and discuss the methods used to inventory the park’s glaciers. These include the use of high-resolution aerial photography to delineate glacier perimeters and determine surface area, as well as the use of high-precision GPS to calculate changes in ice thickness. In addition, they have replicated historic photos to provide a visual record of the dramatic changes that have occurred over the past century.

Recent monitoring work on two park glaciers includes a multiple-year study of glacier mass balance which helps us understand the response of glaciers to annual climate variations and provide a more accurate understanding of glacier contributions to Olympic Peninsula rivers. Highlights of that study included the discovery that rates of retreat of Olympic glaciers were substantially higher than other areas of the Pacific Northwest and showed that there has been a loss of nearly a third of our small alpine glaciers, and major changes in both surface area and volume to larger glaciers.

About the Speaker

Bill Baccus is a Physical Scientist with the National Park Service where he works on the North Coast and Cascades Network supporting their long-term monitoring program. He operates a network of climate stations within the park, studies winter snow pack, glaciers, and mountain lakes, and studies coastal ecosystems.