Monitoring Glaciers at Mount Rainier National Park

In the continuing series of videos I have been posting about National Park science (Restoring Native Prairies, Black Bear Science and Tidepool Science), the latest science video talks about monitoring glaciers at Mount Ranier National Park and the three main reasons that it is done:

1. To monitor changing habitats for species and the alpine food web.
2. To monitor for indicators of climate change.
3. To monitor water levels.

The scientists visit at least twice a year to monitor the amount of snow that has accumulated and then how much melt has occurred. This has shown that there has been a decrease of the glacier area of more than 50% in the last century:

National Park Service scientists have been monitoring glaciers at Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic national parks to document their rates of growth and decline. Not only are glaciers awe-inspiring elemental forces, but they are absolutely critical resources for northwest ecosystems and for human populations. Glaciers are also the clearest evidence of climate change. Measuring glaciers is not for the faint of heart. Besides snow, ice, blasting winds, and crevasses, the necessary equipment is heavy and the distances on foot are long and go up steeply. This video features the people who do this tough work.

Black Bear Science at North Cascades National Park

As I have mentioned before, I am always fascinated by the science conducted in our National Parks. When it comes to studying the animals residing inside our National Parks, the most difficult part is often finding them. North Cascades National Park utilizes both hi-tech and lo-tech to get the information they want from their black bear population:

Finding and monitoring bears in rugged Northwest parks has always been dicey. Today, through genetic testing, tufts of bear hair can tell scientists how many animals live in an area, how far they range, and how closely related they are to one another. In this video an NPS biologist demonstrates how to snag bear hair using innovative techniques that include barbed wire, high-tech cameras, and some really stinky scent lure.