Glaciers to be Discussed at AMK Ranch Lecture

July 14, 2009
The current status of glaciers in the Teton Range—including preliminary findings for glacial changes over time and the implications for park resources and visitors—will be discussed by
Dr. Glenn Tootle during an informative talk slated for Thursday,
July 16, at the historic AMK Ranch, north of Leeks Marina, in Grand Teton National Park. Also presenting are Jake Edmunds, lead graduate student on the Teton Range glacier study, and Greg Kerr, director of the Office of Water Programs at the University of Wyoming (UW). The program is part of a summer lecture series annually hosted by the University of Wyoming-National Park Service Research Center. The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m., immediately following a barbecue cookout.

Formerly an assistant professor and researcher in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Wyoming, Tootle is currently with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Tootle supervises a research project team of three UW graduate students (Jake Edmunds, Derrick Thompson and Jeb Bell) on glaciers in the Teton Range and Wind River Range.

For fifteen years, Teton glaciers existed without much scrutiny. However, in 2008 two studies were initiated to document glacial changes in the Teton Range. The research to be discussed in the AMK lecture incorporates aerial photographs and remote sensing data. The project utilizes USGS aerials to calculate 3-dimensional images of glaciers and to evaluate glacial area and volume changes. Edmunds’ early findings indicate the two glaciers studied (Middle Teton and Teton) have lost over half of their area since 1967.

This research represents a growing initiative on the part of the National Park Service to monitor the trend of natural resources during the current period of climate change, studies made possible in part through funding provided by Grand Teton National Park Foundation. The Teton glacier studies, in particular, provide significant insight into the possibility of an environmentally-changing Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Among other factors, climate and glaciers strongly influence the timing and intensity of peak stream flows, which are important factors driving both agricultural practices and natural ecosystems in the area. The findings will also provide vital information for a future meeting of regional climate change experts discussing current research, information gaps, and priorities for the GYE.