MOUNT RAINIER
GEOLOGY & WEATHER
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2021 Glacier Area and Volume Update

2021 Glacier Area and Volume Update

Mount Rainier is the most glaciated volcano in the Cascade Range of the western United States and has more glacial ice on its edifice than all other volcanoes in the Cascade Range combined. Measuring rates of glacial ice loss during warming climates are critical to understanding the future impacts to riparian areas downslope of the glaciers, sediment production to braided rivers, aquatic impacts due to increasing stream temperatures, and many other important areas for park resource management. Glacial area has been delineated many times in the last century; most importantly in 1896, 1913, 1971, 1994, 2009, and, most recently, in 2015. Each of these extents represents a snapshot of the surface area of the volcano occupied by glacial ice during those years and provides an opportunity to visualize the health of the glaciers in the park over time.

Using aerially derived Structure from Motion (SfM) data acquired in September 2021, as well as other satellite and aerial imagery, glacier area for each of the 29 named glacial features is updated for Mount Rainier and presented here. From these source data, we have mapped not only the extent of ice but estimate the volume of ice from methods developed by other researchers in the past. Overall, our data shows a continuation of gradual yet accelerating loss of glacial ice at Mount Rainier, resulting in significant changes in regional ice volume over the last century. Regional climate change is affecting all glacial features at Mount Rainier, but mostly those smaller cirque glaciers and discontinuous glaciers on the south aspect of the volcano.

This page has been provided as quick reference for the latest glacial extent and volume respository for Mount Rainier as of the 2021 delineation. Links are provided to the following: (1) Some key conclusions from the 2021 study; (2) The poster presented at the 2022 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado; (3) A Natural Resource Report (NRR) detailing the 2021 delineation effort; (4) Overall glacial extent and volume estimates; (5) Change in glacial area and volume between 2015 and 2016; and (6) Links to detailed information on individual glaciers.

Key Conclusions from the 2021 Study

Publications

There are two publications that are developed through this study:

Overall Glacial Extent and Volume Estimates (as of 2021)

Glacier Slope (°) Length (ft) Area (ft2) Area (mi2) Area (km2) Basal Shear Stress (lb/ft2) D&K Method Used Volume, D&K Method (ft3) Volume, D&K Method (mi3) Volume, D&K Method (km3) Volume, Nylen Method (ft3) Volume, Nylen Method (mi3) Volume, Nylen Method (km3)
Carbon25.0527,56275,879,959.6422.7227.0493,119.845B10,781,180,244.1650.0730.30512,821,299,014.8860.0870.363
Columbia Crest 10.782,2701,861,723.3480.0670.1732,087.963A107,290,111.2140.0010.00382,802,563.5150.0010.002
Cowlitz24.9919,11439,434,604.2531.4153.6642,910.584B5,236,316,572.7290.0360.1485,264,444,684.9180.0360.149
Edmunds25.296,97012,400,678.3160.4451.1522,575.345A904,081,845.5680.0060.0261,091,553,396.6500.0070.031
Emmons29.4125,186116,754,877.9734.18810.8473,279.250B15,635,137,312.5600.1060.44323,038,448,643.3970.1570.652
Flett20.612,4293,906,633.8930.1400.3632,270.220A246,809,187.3490.0020.007226,887,659.5260.0020.006
Fryingpan24.096,49432,185,463.9021.1542.9902,846.419A2,641,098,855.8990.0180.0753,993,709,544.8460.0270.113
Ingraham31.6317,00232,876,666.0361.1793.0542,873.990B3,696,481,500.2260.0250.1054,110,801,932.6870.0280.116
Inter25.574,8585,731,408.4780.2060.5322,373.629A379,717,700.9350.0030.011382,115,484.3050.0030.011
Kautz35.5413,93916,548,442.3090.5941.5372,685.162B1,641,134,932.7740.0110.0461,616,102,374.2200.0110.046
Liberty Cap29.698,92322,234,859.6570.7982.0662,751.418B2,483,720,077.4590.0170.0702,415,049,066.1410.0160.068
Muir Snowfield18.146,2838,862,766.2660.3180.8232,472.187A619,787,710.7320.0040.018691,279,100.8820.0050.020
Nisqually30.4020,27543,744,056.0141.5694.0642,958.273B5,179,369,296.6790.0350.1476,061,904,516.9090.0410.172
N Mowich27.8114,67852,991,878.8151.9014.9233,010.983B6,754,530,781.4480.0460.1917,868,353,382.4320.0530.223
Ohanapecosh21.752,8516,626,951.5440.2380.6162,402.985A447,024,964.8630.0030.013465,528,148.5060.0030.013
Paradise22.842,4296,233,001.8880.2240.5792,389.400A417,267,721.6670.0030.012428,299,390.3750.0030.012
Puyallup21.2214,04533,520,169.3011.2023.1142,852.375B4,950,184,611.7290.0340.1404,220,613,866.4490.0290.120
Pyramid20.874,0662,158,338.9510.0770.2012,132.223A126,685,105.3370.0010.004101,242,277.5720.0010.003
Russell23.149,18729,041,836.8411.0422.6982,813.415B3,949,837,408.2110.0270.1123,472,737,327.3430.0240.098
Sarvent25.142,4824,094,858.5410.1470.3802,289.659A260,214,563.7120.0020.007241,882,302.1690.0020.007
S Mowich32.6120,11738,976,665.9631.3983.6212,929.643B4,394,049,815.6870.0300.1245,181,476,815.2010.0350.147
S Tahoma28.4710,82420,932,035.0250.7511.9452,730.435B2,382,552,667.3970.0160.0672,224,655,463.2920.0150.063
Stevens19.721,9010.0000.0000.0000.000A0.0000.0000.0000.0000.0000.000
Success31.103,9074,178,999.4010.1500.3882,308.177A266,232,056.7420.0020.008248,666,639.2440.0020.007
Tahoma29.8823,07468,807,650.8412.4686.3923,102.043B8,631,857,893.9330.0590.24411,223,934,890.6530.0760.318
Van Trump25.894,6461,257,809.2910.0450.1172,021.717A69,046,569.4220.0000.00248,577,516.8030.0000.001
Whitman17.4910,66619,803,961.9280.7101.8402,691.081B3,247,873,967.0100.0220.0922,063,203,269.1320.0140.058
Wilson29.896,91715,725,778.5670.5641.4612,652.796A1,180,774,962.0910.0080.0331,507,827,698.8510.0100.043
Winthrop28.7826,34794,022,219.1403.3738.7353,202.758B12,466,112,464.6780.0850.35317,161,397,908.1860.1170.486

Totals (2021)

Notes:

Change in Glacial Extent and Volume between 2015 and 2021 (6 years)

Glacier Area, % Loss Volume, % Loss, D&K Method Volume, % Loss, Nylen Method Volume, % Loss, Average North or South Facing Summit or Cirque
Carbon-2.857%-3.155%-3.865%-3.510%NC
Columbia Crest -4.095%-4.591%-5.528%-5.059%NS
Cowlitz-8.188%-9.015%-10.968%-9.992%SC
Edmunds-8.014%-8.962%-10.739%-9.850%NC
Emmons-1.634%-1.806%-2.216%-2.011%NS
Flett-10.529%-11.755%-14.041%-12.898%NC
Fryingpan-7.842%-8.770%-10.511%-9.641%NC
Ingraham1.565%1.732%2.135%1.933%SS
Inter-7.231%-8.091%-9.705%-8.898%NC
Kautz-4.569%-5.041%-6.162%-5.602%SS
Liberty Cap-3.414%-3.769%-4.614%-4.192%NS
Muir Snowfield-5.919%-6.628%-7.963%-7.296%SC
N Mowich-3.045%-3.362%-4.119%-3.741%NC
Nisqually-4.299%-4.744%-5.801%-5.272%SS
Ohanapecosh-7.969%-8.911%-10.679%-9.795%SC
Paradise-5.355%-5.999%-7.212%-6.605%SC
Puyallup-4.411%-4.867%-5.951%-5.409%SC
Pyramid-23.534%-26.037%-30.575%-28.306%SC
Russell-6.718%-7.403%-9.025%-8.214%NC
S Mowich-16.327%-18.156%-21.528%-19.842%SC
S Tahoma-3.837%-4.235%-5.182%-4.709%SC
Sarvent-2.856%-3.154%-3.864%-3.509%NC
Stevens-100.000%-100.000%-100.000%-100.000%SC
Success-17.369%-19.301%-22.853%-21.077%SC
Tahoma-5.814%-6.410%-7.823%-7.116%SS
Van Trump-33.578%-36.863%-42.674%-39.769%SC
Whitman-5.103%-5.628%-6.876%-6.252%SC
Wilson-6.491%-7.266%-8.724%-7.995%SC
Winthrop-2.691%-2.972%-3.642%-3.307%NS

Some Interpretations of this data:

Detailed Information on Individual Glaciers

Carbon Glacier
Columbia Crest Glacier
Cowlitz Glacier
Edmunds Glacier
Emmons Glacier
Flett Glacier
Fryingpan Glacier
Ingraham Glacier
Inter Glacier
Kautz Glacier
Liberty Cap Glacier
Muir Snowfield
Nisqually Glacier
North Mowich Glacier
Ohanapecosh Glacier
Paradise Glacier
Puyallup Glacier
Pyramid Glacier
Russell Glacier
Sarvent Glacier
South Mowich Glacier
South Tahoma Glacier
Stevens Glacier
Success Glacier
Tahoma Glacier
Van Trump Glaciers
Whitman Glacier
Wilson Glacier
Winthrop Glacier
Carbon Glacier Columbia Crest Glacier Cowlitz Glacier Edmunds Glacier Emmons Glacier Flett Glacier Fryingpan Glacier Ingraham Glacier Inter Glacier Kautz Glacier Liberty Cap Glacier Muir Snowfield Nisqually Glacier North Mowich Glacier Ohanapecosh Glacier Paradise Glacier Puyallup Glacier Pyramid Glacier Russell Glacier Sarvent Glacier Sarvent Glacier South Mowich Glacier South Tahoma Glacier Success Glacier Tahoma Glacier Van Trump Glaciers Whitman Glacier Wilson Glacier Winthrop Glacier

References