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TitleGlacier water resources on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains
AuthorMarshall, S J; White, E C; Demuth, M N; Bolch, T; Wheate, R; Menounos, B; Beedle, M J; Shea, J M
SourceCanadian Water Resources Journal vol. 36, no. 2, 2011 p. 109-134,
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20100100
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceAlberta; British Columbia
NTS82M; 82N; 82O; 83B; 83C; 83D; 83E; 83F; 83G; 83J; 83K; 83L; 83M; 83N; 83O; 84B; 84C; 84D; 84E; 84F; 84G; 93A; 93H; 93I; 93J; 93O; 93P; 94A; 94B; 94C; 94F; 94G; 94H
AreaHaig Glacier; Peyto Glacier; Kwadacha Glacier; Peace River; Athabasca River; Red Deer River; Northern Saskatchewan River
Lat/Long WENS-126.0000 -114.0000 58.0000 51.0000
Subjectssurficial geology/geomorphology; hydrogeology; glacial deposits; glaciers; watersheds; glacier surveys
Illustrationslocation maps; tables; plots
ProgramEarth Science for National Scale Characterization of Climate Change Impacts on Canada's Landmass, Climate Change Geoscience
AbstractMaps of glacier area in western Canada have recently been generated for 1985 and 2005 (Bolch et al., 2010), providing the first complete inventory of glacier cover in Alberta and British Columbia. Western Canada lost about 11% of its glacier area over this period, with area loss exceeding 20% on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies. Glacier area is difficult to relate to glacier volume, which is the attribute of relevance to water resources and global sea level rise. We apply several possible volume-area scaling relations and glacier slope-thickness relations to estimate the volume of glacier ice in the headwater regions of rivers that spring from the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, arriving at an estimate of 55 ± 15 km3. We cannot preclude higher values, because the available data indicate that large valley glaciers in the Rocky Mountains may be anomalously thick relative to what is typical in the global database that forms the basis for empirical volume-area scaling relations.
Incorporating multivariate statistical analysis using observed mass balance data from Peyto Glacier, Alberta and synoptic meteorological conditions in the Canadian Rockies (1966-2007), we model future glacier mass balance scenarios on the eastern slopes of the Rockies. We simulate future volume changes for the glaciers of the Rockies by using these mass balance scenarios in conjunction with a regional ice dynamics model. These projections indicate that glaciers on the eastern slopes will lose 80-90% of their volume by 2100. Glacier contributions to streamflow in Alberta decline from 1.1 km3 a-1 in the early 2000s to 0.1 km3 a-1 by the end of this century.