Cool science things happening with Rocky Mountain National Park glaciers

Next with Kyle Clark. 9NEWS @ 6. 9/20/2016

Some researchers at Colorado State University are trying to figure out the fate of the glaciers at Rocky Mountain National Park. 

They want to know how the glaciers respond to our climate today, and how they may fare in the future.

So how the heck do you do that?

The team will use time lapse cameras and laser technology. That data will be compared with previous CSU research, which tracked the area of the glaciers. This study began in June and will last two years.

"Rocky Mountain National Park is an important part of our Front Range," said David McGrath, a researcher on the project.

Since the early 90s, the glaciers at Rocky Mountain National Park have fluctuated in size, depending on the snowfall and the temperature for the year. The glaciers there are generally small, and could technically be considered "perennial snowfields." For us average people, that's just a mass of snow that survives a seasonal melt and doesn't move much.

Other communities on the other side of the globe rely on the melt from glaciers more than we do in Colorado, where snow melt is much bigger resource. McGrath says they're still important to study because of their impact on global ecosystems, the particular ecosystem in the park, and because they're something tourists are fascinated by. 

"People are up there, they're really interested in them, attracted to them, this aesthetic appeal of the mountains. That's an important thing not to forget," McGrath said.

He adds we should also focus more attention on our carbon footprint, when it comes to understanding our climate.

The funding for this two-year research project comes from the National Park Service Water Resource Division.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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