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Continental and alpine glaciers differ in their formation, movement and features.

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Yosemite Glaciers

Yosemite Glaciers


Credit: Russell, I.C.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lyle-Glacier-1883.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Lyell Glacier was much larger in 1883 than it is today. By 1883, it had retreated a lot since its glory days during the Pleistocene Ice Ages.

Why It Matters

  • During the Pleistocene, the Sierra Nevada Mountains were covered with glaciers.
  • Since the end of the Pleistocene, all of the glaciers have been retreating. Most have disappeared.
  • Climate change has made the few remaining glaciers retreat even faster.
  • The remaining glaciers are at the very highest elevations in cirques facing N-NE.
  • Yosemite National Park has two remaining glaciers: the Lyell and the McClure.
  • Credit: Dimitry B.
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/61533954@N00/9385444742/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    View from Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park [Figure2]

  • In a February 4, 2013 press release, the National Park Service announced that Lyell Glacier had ceased to move downhill in the past several years.

Show What You Know

With the link below, learn more about Yosemite’s glaciers. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is the landscape around the Lyell Glacier like? What make it that way?
  2. What is a crevasse? Why do crevasses form in a glacier?
  3. What is a bergschrund? Where is it?
  4. Since Lyell Glacier is no longer moving downhill, how many glaciers are there in Yosemite National Park?
  5. Why can’t Yosemite National Park personnel protect the remaining glaciers?
  6. Like the glaciers, some animals are retreating uphill as temperatures rise. What will happen to the animals in the future?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Russell, I.C.; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lyle-Glacier-1883.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Dimitry B.; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/61533954@N00/9385444742/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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