What Happened To Global Warming?
As strange it might seem, Alaska's glaciers could appear to be
shrinking for some time while secretly growing. Molnia said there are a few
glaciers in the state now where constant snow accumulations at higher elevations are causing them to thicken even as their lower reaches follow the pattern of retreat fueled by the global warming of recent decades.
Two hundred years of glacial shrinkage in Alaska, and then came the winter and summer of 2007-2008.
Unusually large amounts of winter snow were followed by unusually chill temperatures in June, July and August.
"In mid-June, I was surprised to see snow still at sea level in Prince William Sound," said U.S. Geological Survey glaciologist Bruce Molnia. "On the Juneau Icefield, there was still 20 feet of new snow on the surface of the Taku Glacier in late July. At Bering Glacier, a landslide I am studying, located at about 1,500 feet elevation, did not become snow free until early August.
"In general, the weather this summer was the worst I have seen in at least 20 years."
Never before in the history of a research project dating back to 1946 had the Juneau Icefield witnessed the kind of snow buildup that came this year. It was similar on a lot of other glaciers too.