Global warming seems to be shrinking high-mountain glaciers, according to researchers who say the change could have drastic effects on water supplies in some areas.
The Bull Lake and Knife Point glaciers, two of more than 50 in the Wind River Range, have receded in length by about 30 feet and in depth by 6 to 7 feet since 1986, said Charles Love, a Western Wyoming College professor who has studied them for four years."The glaciers are getting smaller, and they're getting smaller fast," Love said. "And what's happening with them probably holds true for all of the other glaciers in the area."
Photographs of the Dinwoody and Gannett glaciers taken this summer show they have retreated "dramatically" since the 1930s and are "in a bad state of health," said University of Wyoming geologist Dick Marston, who also works at the Wyoming Water Research Center.
Love and Marston said climatic change is causing the shrinkage as the high mountain country experiences increasingly hotter summers that rapidly melt snowfall and then eat into the ancient ice packs.
Some streams in the Wind River Basin are fed by glaciel runoff that could go dry part of the year if the melting trend continues, they say. Such a drastic situation is probably decades away, although Fremont County has suffered some water shortages this summer.