|Athabasca Glacier and Sunwapta Lake in July 2014|
We were in the midst of our Northern Convergence journey through British Columbia and Alberta last July when we pulled up at the visitor center for the Columbia Icefield. Up to this point we had seen a large number of small glaciers tucked away in the high peaks of Yoho and Banff National Parks, and we had seen plentiful evidence of past glaciations at nearly all the localities we had been visiting over the previous six days. But here at Athabasca Glacier, we were confronted with ice. Lots of ice, just a short distance from the end of the road. It was not unlike stepping out of a time machine into the last ice age.
|Athabasca Glacier in 1919. Sunwapta Lake does not yet exist.|
|Compare this photo to a shot from the same spot in 2005, below|
|Athabasca Glacier terminus in 2005|
At the rate that the glacier is receding, it will probably be gone by the end of the century. There can hardly be a starker piece of evidence that the Earth's climate is warming. It is as plain as the nose on one's face, unless you are a politician whose re-election depends on funding from lobbying groups who are paying you to be blind.
We returned to our vehicles and drove down the Icefields Parkway to a new destination: the High Plains of Alberta. We were on the trail to find some dinosaurs...more later.