State Route 20 closed at Mile Post 134, Ross Dam
After a brief closure at Newhalem due to an avalanche and unstable conditions, SR 20 has re-opened to its normal winter closure point at MP 134, Ross Dam. The highway will remain closed from Ross Dam to MP 171 (Silver Star Creek) until spring re-opening. More »
Ross Dam Haul Road Closure Continues
A short segment of the Ross Dam Haul Road between the Diablo Lake suspension bridge and the tunnel remains closed to public use due to continued recovery following a March 2010 landslide. The closure will remain in effect through 2014. More »
Notice of planned work for the Cascade River Road, fall 2014
Visitors planning to access the park via the Cascade River Road after Labor Day should be advised that the Park Service is planning a fall closure of this road at Eldorado Creek (3 miles before the end of the road) in order to perform permanent repairs. More »
Glacier Monitoring Program
Glaciers are one of the most valuable resources in the North Cascades National Park Service Complex (NOCA). Approximately one-third of all the glaciers in the lower 48 states are within the park (Post et al. 1971). The 312 glaciers in NOCA are a vital component of hydrologic systems and aquatic ecosystems. They also influence soil development, the distribution of vegetation, flooding and are dramatic indicators of climate change. The glacial resource is also central to the region's hydroelectric industry and our efforts to sustain endangered salmon and trout. Perhaps the most critical role of glaciers is providing fresh water during the summer drought. This role is becoming more important as snow-pack and glaciers decline. Since the end of the Little Ice Age in the late 1800's, glaciers have retreated throughout NOCA and we estimate that approximately 40% of the park's ice cover was lost in the past 150 years (Figure 21). In the Thunder Creek watershed this has resulted in a 30% reduction in summer streamflow. To understand climate change, the glacier resource, and the effect of glaciers on other resources at NOCA, long-term monitoring of glaciers is needed. South Cascade Glacier, located just outside NOCA, has been monitored by the U.S.G.S. Water Resources Division since the mid-1950s. When we began this program in 1993 it was not known how representative South Cascade Glacier was of NOCA glaciers because of the influence of non-climatic factors such as geographic position, aspect and elevation. Since that time we have learned that each glacier in the North Cascades has a unique response to climate, but that all of the glaciers are retreating (Riedel and Larrabee 2011).
Four broad goals are identified to monitor glaciers as important vital signs of the ecological health of NOCA:
Changes to glaciers, measured in water equivalents or water contents of snow, ice, and firn, are monitored annually and analyzed as mass balance. Mass balance is the difference between winter accumulation (growth) and summer melt (loss). Four glaciers in NOCA have had a negative mass balance over seven consecutive years (2003-2009) (Riedel and Larrabee 2011), showing clear evidence of global warming which translates to changes in stream flows and increased challenges for aquatic life and ecosystems.
Riedel, J. and M. A. Larrabee. 2011. North Cascades National Park Complex glacier mass balance monitoring annual report, water year 2009: North Coast and Cascades Network. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NCCN/NRTR--2011/483. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.
Did You Know?
North Cascades National Park Service Complex includes 684,000 acres near the crest of the Cascade Mountains from the Canadian border south to Lake Chelan.