Photos: Mystery, grandeur and beauty at Glacier National Park
Wondering how climate change has impacted one of America's natural treasures, a reporter visits and finds--shrouded in fog--beauty like nowhere else.
CNET Reviews staff
Far north in central Montana, Glacier National Park is one of America's true natural treasures. Studded with glaciers, granite mountains, lush green forests, plentiful waterfalls and abundant wildlife, the park is testament to the grandeur and beauty of America.
But climate change is having a drastic effect here. As CNET News reporter Daniel Terdiman discovered when he visited Glacier National Park on Road Trip 2009, global warming is dramatically altering the landscape here. While the glaciers have been retreating for decades, "the rate and magnitude of the change we are witnessing today has not occurred since human civilization began," according to the National Park Service.
One eventual victim could be mountain goats, which are seeing their habitat shrink as trees "move into high alpine meadows." This baby mountain goat may well get a chance to live out its normal life as its parents and their parents and many past generations did, but that might not be true of its offspring. Or theirs.
McDonald Creek winds its way through a valley at Glacier National Park in northern Montana. The park combines with the contiguous Canadian Waterton Lakes National Park to form the International Peace Park.
Plentiful water near the surface means that cedar trees in Glacier National Park grow shallow, huge root systems. However, when heavy winds blow, some of the trees can be easily knocked over. This one demonstrates the root system.
In some places inside the park, it's hard to tell how large the waterfalls are. This fall, which passes under a road where a group of cars has stopped for construction, provides some visual perspective.
This tunnel, which features three open windows to the world outside, is known as the Three Arches. Here, it is visible in spite of the heavy, mysterious fog that was shrouding Glacier National Park on this day of Road Trip 2009.
Waterfall to snowbridge
The tiny specks just below this snow bridge and waterfall are people and vehicles, providing visual perspective on how large they are.
This National Park Service graphic demonstrates the effect of climate change on its signature glaciers.
It is estimated that, at current pace, there will be no more glaciers in the park after 2030. That's because of the effects of global warming, which is steadily eroding the ancient ice rivers. According to the National Park Service, "the six hottest years on record since the 1890s, in rank order, are 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2004."