Glaciers in Yosemite… and elsewhere.
Check out this short film put together by the Park Service about glaciers in Yosemite. This is part of a whole series of short films called Yosemite Nature Notes. Watch each one in full screen mode; they’re beautiful.
Glaciers in the Sierra are small. The Lyell is the 2nd largest and the largest, the Palisade Glacier, is probably less than a few square miles in area. In my climbing and Sierra rambling, I have traveled over many Sierra glaciers and some are only the size of a few football fields. Here’s the Conness Glacier back in September:
The remaining Sierra glaciers pale in comparison to the big guys up in Alaska or down in Patagonia. Even though it’s the second largest, it’s scary to think that I will likely show my children a Lyell Glacier that’s half the size of the one that I have admired since I was a kid, and that’s if I’m lucky.
What’s scarier is that the Lyell is San Francisco’s natural freshwater reservoir–the City’s water comes directly from the Lyell as meltwater from the Tuolumne River. Much of the water that supplies great populations around the world comes from glaciers high in the mountains of the Andes, Himalaya, Sierra and Alps. If we continue to warm the planet, not only will these beautiful places to explore, climb and admire disappear, but so too will the water that nurtures life and the needs of our growing world population.
The Lyell glacier and others throuhout the Sierra aren’t just pretty and fun to play on; they’re bellwethers of climate change and the larger global environmental crisis. Their health is inextricably tied to our own.