Global warming is a very big issue now in our society. We can see this happening if we focus on the glaciers especially that are melting. The glaciers are being impacted but it will eventually impact us too.
We can learn more about this by Christopher White’s book, The Melting World. Christopher White along with two other ecologists, Dan Fagre and Clint Muhlfeld, investigate Glacier National Park and the effects of global warming on the glaciers. This was a 5 year tracking of the glaciers in Montana and many discoveries were made about how these small changes could create a much bigger problem in our world. They discovered that climate change was affecting not only the glaciers but the biodiversity too. The first year of tracking of my book starts off with talking about the research done by Dan Fagre who is a glacier specialist who was researching in Glacier National Park located in Montana. Dan Fagre has been monitoring the Rockies’ northern glaciers for around twenty years tracking the changes the glaciers have made over the last years. They have discovered that burning of fossils fuels had increased the temperature of earth by 1.
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5 degrees fahrenheit. This caused the animals to move to higher altitudes since they needed cooler temperatures but soon they will get to the top and will not be able to continue. Many changes were found about the glaciers, they were melting over decades instead of million of years thanks to global warming. It is demonstrated by the Upper Grinnell Lake which was not there until a hundred years ago by the glacier melting at a faster rate.
Not only does this affect animals but it affects plants too such as the alpine glacier poppy that could go extinct since it only grows in the alpine tundra of Glacier National Park. Dan Fagre says that we are reaching the tipping point in which nothing we do will be able to stop or reduce global warming. Glacier national park once had 150 glacier and now it only consists of 25 and according to their predictions then glaciers may vanish by 2030.
If this actually were to happen then Glacier National Park would have to lose its name. In years two and three it gives us a bit of history of how the Rockies’ came to be what they are today and how now they are melting. It tells us how in the middle of jurassic, the early Rockies’ were made but there’s a theory that the creation of this affected the circulation of cold air and this made it have bigger amount of snow and reserved melting. But another theory is that the orbit of the Earth influences the the amount of solar energy received since the Earth wobbles and does not stay still. This means that these could be the theories of why the Earth has these changes in temperature.
But White tells us that in the Little Ice age there wasn’t big changes of temperature like there is today. Now the temperatures are getting higher that the ice on the mountains are melting or just coming off so they will eventually come to an end. Fagre has records of ice fields he has kept track of since 1966 which were 37 back then but by 2005 about one-third had died. Some of them are just too small to be considered glaciers since they were under 25 acres in size. Myrna Hall, who is a graduate form the area, made a model to see the changes of glaciers over decades.
To see the rate of melting glaciers, Myrna Hall wrote a FORTRAN computer simulation where they could see if the glaciers would gain or lose for each decade since 1990 to 2100. To do this they chose 2 scenarios one where the carbon dioxide doubles in the atmosphere by year 2030. On the other hand, we have the second scenario where carbon dioxide would not affect it but would be more naturally just rise 0.4 degrees fahrenheit by 2050. Fagre and Hall had hypotheses about the scenarios thinking that the first one would bring more snow which would help the glaciers get past the twenty-first century. While for the second one they thought that they would banish by 2050 since there would be no precipitation. But the results were shocking since their hypotheses were both wrong according to the results they got. The results actually showed that is was the other way around, that the first scenario would have warmer summers causing the glaciers to melt at a faster rate with all the glaciers in that area gone by 2030.
In the meantime, the second scenario showed that the melting rate of glaciers was slower and lasted past the year 2100. The only problem was that the glaciers were already vanishing faster than what the model had shown. All this became big news since such a famous park could potentially lose its name later in the future. On their fourth year of research, week one, they go into more depth about one glacier in specific. They decided to focus on Sperry Glacier since its one that Fagre has been keeping records for it.
It was known that Sperry Glacier had lost most of its acres due to having some of the hottest summers from 1914 to 2005. Fagre and his team, accompanied by White too, discovered that Sperry had been gaining ice which were very good news. This showed that it was back on track and in good conditions which is always a good discovery since White has explained throughout the book that our glaciers are vanishing very fast.Furthermore, on the second week of year four, White goes into further detail about what could happen to nature especially the westslope cutthroat trout which lives in the Avalanche Lake.
With temperatures raising, the lake is warming up which is making it inhabitable for the native trout. Since the native trouts need cooler water temperatures they are not making it and will not survive if the temperature continues to rise. They still manage to survive in these conditions but it can’t last forever. They have lost at least thirty percent of their habitat due to watersheds being destroyed by wildfires or they’ve become obstructed.
White explains how the trout is very important to be saved, we need to have biodiversity since one extinction can make a big change. They started being endangered by the hybrids such as the rainbow trout since they were adapting to other conditions unlike the native trout. The USFWS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is counting these hybrids but others say they shouldn’t consider them part of the native population since they aren’t pure. Not only is the westslope cutthroat trout the only one being affected in Avalanche Lake locates by Sperry Glacier but also the local stonefly which is native and essential to the lake. It may also go extinct if the ice and snow disappear since its habitat is more of cooler condition.
Losing any of these fauna could change the whole ecosystem they live in. A factor of this could be global warming but as White tells how the USFWS does not consider that one of the factor to be the threat of losing its habitat. If the glaciers keep melting the hybrids may continue living but the native species will have no chance.
Muhlfeld with his colleagues find out that the mixed offspring of the cutthroat rainbow hybrids is not as successful like what the Darwinian sense says that hybrids are more likely to go extinct but that’s not the case in Montana. A question that White asks is, what would happen to these trouts if the glaciers were to vanish? The most likely answer is that we would no longer have the westslope cutthroat trout became of global warming.On week three of year four, White tells us more about what would happen to snow slides and avalanches if the glaciers were to keep melting.
He visits Swiftcurrent Mountain to discover more about it, he tells us that like Sperry Glacier this is the home to the meltwater stonefly. If the stoneflies were to be considered endangered then then Sperry Glacier and Swiftcurrent Glacier could be considered a “critical habitat” and this would protect both the stonefly and glaciers. But it is already at risk since it is close to losing more of its area and then it would no longer be considered an active glacier. White also goes into depth talking about snow crystals are formed and how they are what make up a glacier. They are as unique as fingerprints and they all start out from the clouds eventually this forms the nucleus of the crystal which is called the catalyst. White moves on and talks about the two basic types of snowslides there can be like the loose-snow or slab avalanche.
Avalanches, or snowslides, are very important since once they fall they go to the bottom and secure the glacier but if they get warmer there would be more avalanches happening, which would be a big problem since if we do not have many avalanches then trees would fill up in these mountains and there would be less water streamflow. This would create less biodiversity since we would have nature not being able to survive in new conditions. Another problem that this would cause would be fires since there would be no water in these mountains to extinguish them. We are having droughts that in some eyes, we are exceeding the Dust Bowl which was a severe drought during 1930 to 1936 on the American prairie. White says that in the future we would end in fire if global warming continues and nothing is done in perspective. Towards the end, on week four of year four, it talks more about how nature is changing because of global warming. The forests are growing by the glaciers leaving them without any alpine habitat but also trees will extend making new trees appear in higher altitudes. You have flora and fauna moving up to higher altitudes to have cooler temperatures but they are running out space.
Since they are running out of space they will eventually run out of space to the point where they will have nowhere to go. Some animals, like the pikas, can’t move anywhere else or move to cooler areas since they only live on restricted areas and it is hard for them since they are very vulnerable to higher temperatures. Global warming may be the reason that our nature is changing so much by animals and plants being endangered.Afterwards, on week five of year four, they compare lot of photographs of glaciers from decades ago to present day. As Dan Fagre and his team compare photographs of glaciers, they can see the many differences the glaciers have made. These changes are bigger than they thought, that their idea of glaciers disappearing by 2030 by actually happen earlier by 2020.
Lastly, on year five, White explains why all this should be something that humanity should care about. Montana is coming to an end where it will not have any glaciers left while in other places around the levels of water of the ocean are raising and each time they are getting closer to shore. If Montana is losing its glaciers then maybe the Alps, Himalayas, and Andes could be next in line to vanish too. White explains that we could lose biodiversity because of the increasing temperatures of global warming and how it all depends on us to save this world from ending. He says we can all help by cutting the amount of carbon dioxide but it is really up to the children or teens which are the next generation to save the world.
He wants humanity to open their ears and open their eyes to realize that we need to save our glaciers and nature from global warming.In my opinion, this book was really interesting due to the fact that it gives a lot of information and detail about the glaciers in Glacier National Park. Not only that, but it also tells you about the flora and fauna in the area. What I think the author wrote this was to inform people and be aware of the changes global warming is making to Montana in the park and what could happen to other places in the country or world. To me it was really interesting how Glacier National Park had 150 glaciers decades ago but now only holds 25 of them due to the temperatures rising. It makes me realize that in a short time we could lose all the glaciers in the park.
It was explained really good that it got you hooked and made you want to read more, at times it would give so much good detail that you could imagine the scene. I would recommend this book to other students because it it very interesting but also informs you about a big problem in our world. It is especially a good book if you like to learn about the environment and the change it is making because of global warming.
This book made me learn about stuff I didn’t know about and made me become more interested in climate change.