Peyto Glacier in Banff National Park • Earth.com

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the Peyto Glacier in Banff National Park, which is among the most closely monitored glaciers in the world. 

“In 1968, the United Nations selected Peyto as a reference glacier for the International Hydrological Decade research initiative. Ever since, teams of scientists have traveled to the Canadian Rockies regularly to conduct field work and calculate changes in the mass of the glacier, providing the scientific community with a longer and more detailed data record for Peyto than most other glaciers,” reports NASA.

According to data published by the World Glacier Monitoring Service, Peyto loses more mass than it gains in most years. Over the last five decades, Peyto has lost about 70 percent of its mass.

“Most observers attribute the ice losses to rising summer temperatures. In 2021, this area faced a record-breaking summer heat wave, while wildfires raged west of Banff National Park,” says NASA.

“According to some scientists, heat-absorbing soot from wildfire smoke has been accumulating on top and may be accelerating the rate of ice loss. Winter snowfall accumulation, in contrast, has remained roughly the same over the decades.”

It is estimated that by 2100, Peyto Glacier will lose about 85 percent of its current mass.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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