The Oregonian has one of my colleagues from the Department of Geosciences on its front page today. Dr. Anne Nolin has studied patterns of melting and glaciation (or build up) on Mt. Hood for the last few years using remotely sensed information (satellite-gathered data primarily). While much discussion of global climate change patterns is–obviously–global, more local-scale impacts are just as important. For the average Oregonian, these are “where the rubber meets the road.” For Oregonians and other Pacific Northwesterners, it is vital to understand the direct impacts on our hydrologic (or water) cycle, especially where the water serves farms, households, cities and industries that keep the state moving. Loss of snowpack in the mountains of Oregon means less water in the summer and fall dry periods. But more important than snowpack are the glaciers that serve as massive reserves of water for some of the state’s surface waters. Dr. Nolin’s work points out just how sensitive these local glaciers are to changes in temperature.
By connecting the global with the local, Dr. Nolin’s work is scientifically significant and demonstrates an important bellwether for how Oregonians might need to prepare for changes in our climate. You can read the article here.