• Mount Rainier peeks through clouds, viewed across subalpine wildflowers and glacial moraine.

    Mount Rainier

    National Park Washington

Glaciers

Nisqually Glacier

Nisqually Glacier

There are 25 major glaciers on Mount Rainier and numerous unnamed snow or ice patches. The Emmons Glacier has the largest area (4.3 square miles) and Carbon Glacier has the lowest terminus altitude (3,600 feet) of all glaciers in the contiguous 48 states. The Nisqually Glacier has shown dramatic changes in dimension within the last century (Heliker, Johnson and Hodge 1983).

Mount Rainier's glaciers are important indicators of climatic change, major visitor interpretive objects, sources of water for park aquatic systems, and hydroelectric and recreation pursuits outside of the park.

Visit the interactive Mount Rainier glacier webpages of in-depth information on the park's glaciers.

The Mount Rainier Glacier Monitoring 2009 report is now online.

Debris Flows
Historically, glacial outburst floods, torrential rains, and stream capture have caused small to moderate size debris flows. Most occur in drainages with large glaciers. Less common are the debris flows triggered by a drainage diversion in an unglaciated drainage basin. For example, the diversion of the Kautz Glacier meltwater into the Van Trump Basin triggered debris flows on the south side of the mountain in 2001 and 2003.

More information on debris flows is available on the USGS website.

 

Measuring Glaciers
A video produced by the North Coast and Cascades Science Learning Network featuring the scientists who study the glaciers of Mount Rainier.

Did You Know?