Clothesline in Winter

Clothesline in Winter

Monday, December 6, 2010

I'm melting! Melting!

“Ohhh! You cursed brat! Look what you've done! I'm melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! What a world! Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness!”

I loved that scene!  Didn’t you?  It only took a few seconds, and the Wicked Witch was nothing but a puddle on the floor. 

A 120-pound witch is one thing.  A 2.5-mile-wide glacier is another.  And there are – or were – thousands of them in Alaska.  And like the witch, they’re melting fast.  Take a look at these amazing shots taken by Bruce Molnia of the USGS.  Molnia painstakingly returned to the exact spot where earlier photographers had captured these once-great Alaskan glaciers. [Note:  Click on these images so you can get a better look.]

What jumps out in picture after picture is the radical change in the climate and ecosystem over periods ranging from a century to less than half that time.  Notice the meadows and forests that have sprung up.  And also notice the change in colors:  Light, reflective snow and ice have been replaced by dark, heat-absorbing water, rock and forests. This is one example of a positive feedback loop, where warming begets further warming.

No one, not even the climate deniers (deny-ers?) dispute that sea levels are rising.  Three things are making this happen:  Thermal expansion (warming water actually expands), melting ice sheets, and retreating mountain glaciers.  In fact, the glaciers are the least threatening of these three causes.  But the others are hard to see in vivid imagery.  Perhaps the photography will accomplish what reasoned scientific warnings have failed to do so far.

I recommend that you visit the USGS website and look at Molnia's images for yourself:  
Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.
J. Elwood


  1. These pictures are just shocking, and for someone like me who grew up in Alaska, very sad. When Willie and I went to Alaska 5 years ago, I took him to see the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, near where I went to high school. I was completely stunned to see how much it had receded in just 25 years.

  2. Deb: I had forgotten that we had a true Alaskan among our readers! Thanks for the reminder! I forgot to mention that you can click on any of these little images to see them close up.

  3. You had shown me some of these before, but most of them are new to me. Simply stunning. Simply horrifying