Glacial Recession in Cloud Peak Wilderness Area and the Effects on Streamflow

Fyock, Mitchell
For many rivers in the American Northwest, 50-80% of the annual streamflow is derived from snowmelt predominantly from glaciers. Recent studies have shown that increasing temperatures have caused glaciers to melt earlier in the year, as well as at a faster rate. This is significant because the rate of snowmelt, as well as the date of the peak snow/water equivalent, determines a rivers available water supply later in the water year. By comparing the average date of different rivers peak streamflow to the average date of peak snow/water equivalent various gauging stations; a correlation could be made between the two variables in order to obtain a general trend. The Cloud Peak Glacier underwent seasonal variations, however, a trend was discovered linking earlier dates of peak snow/water equivalent to earlier dates of peak streamflow. This implies that as temperatures increase, the tendency for earlier peak streamflow is occurring. By examining the effects of increased temperature on glacial recession, we can better understand its effects on river systems supported by glacial meltwater.
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