is located in the heart of Glacier National Park (U.S.) in the U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...
. The glacier is named for George Bird Grinnell
George Bird Grinnell was an American anthropologist, historian, naturalist, and writer. Grinnell was born in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in 1870 and a Ph.D. in 1880. Originally specializing in zoology, he became a prominent early conservationist and student...
, an early American conservationist
Conservationists are proponents or advocates of conservation. They advocate for the protection of all the species in an ecosystem with a strong focus on the natural environment...
and explorer, who was also a strong advocate of ensuring the creation of Glacier National Park. The glacier is in the Lewis Range
The Lewis Range is a mountain range located in the Rocky Mountains of northern Montana, U.S. and extreme southern Alberta, Canada. Formed by the Lewis Overthrust beginning 170 million years ago, an enormous slab of Precambrian rocks 3 miles thick, wide and long faulted and slid over newer...
and rests on the north flank of Mount Gould
Mount Gould is a peak on the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park, Montana, United States. It is the highest point of the Garden Wall, a distinctive ridge of the Lewis Range. It is most notable for its huge, steep east face, which drops 4000 feet in only one-half mile...
at an altitude averaging 7000 feet (2,133.6 m), in the Many Glacier
Many Glacier is an area within Glacier National Park which is located in the U.S. state of Montana. The Many Glacier region is located north of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, on the east side of the park. Lake Sherburne is the large lake in the area and the Many Glacier Hotel, the largest hotel within...
region of the park.
The glacier has been one of the most photographed glaciers in the park and many of these photographs date back to the mid 19th century. When compared with images taken over subsequent years, the glacier has obviously retreated substantially. In 1850, at the end of what has been referred to as the Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...
, Grinnell Glacier measured 710 acre (2.9 km²), including the area of The Salamander Glacier
The Salamander Glacier is located in the U.S. state of Montana in Glacier National Park. The glacier lies on a shelf on the east side of the arête which is part of the Continental Divide, at an average elevation of above sea level. The glacier covered an area of approximately as of 1993...
, an ice apron or shelf glacier that used to be attached to Grinnell, but is now separate. By 1993, Grinnell Glacier measured 220 acre (0.8903092 km²) and The Salamander measured 57 acre (0.23067102 km²). Between 1966 and 2005, Grinnell Glacier lost almost 40 percent of its acreage.
Glaciologists have predicted that all the glaciers in the park, including Grinnell, will disappear by the year 2030.
Gem Glacier is the smallest named glacier in Glacier National Park . Located on the east side of the Continental Divide arete known as the Garden Wall, the glacier is situated on the cliff face above the better known Grinnell Glacier. Gem Glacier is a hanging glacier, and drapes down from the...
, one of the smallest remaining glaciers in the park, is located on the Garden Wall
The Garden Wall is a steep alpine area within Glacier National Park well known during the summer months to be heavily covered in dozens of species of flowering plants and shrubs...
above Grinnell. Repeat photography taken between the years 1938 and 2009 (as shown below) show that Grinnell Glacier has retreated significantly over that period. Interestingly, The Salamander and Gem Glaciers have shown little change in area over the same period of time. The Salamander receives its name for its shape and its coloring, which comes from the serratia bacteria that grows on it.
The glacier can be reached after a 6 miles (9.7 km) hike from a trailhead beginning at Swiftcurrent Lake
Swiftcurrent Lake is located in the Many Glacier region of Glacier National Park, in the U. S. state of Montana. The Many Glacier Hotel, the largest hotel in the park, is along the east shore of the lake. Many hiking trails originate from the area and scenic tour boats provide access to the lake...
. The trail has an altitude gain of just over 1600 feet (487.7 m), with the majority of that in the second half of the hike.
|1938 T.J. Hileman GNP
||1981 Carl Key (USGS)
||1998 Dan Fagre (USGS)
||2005 Blase Reardon (USGS)
||2009 Lindsey Bengtson (USGS)
- Retreat of glaciers since 1850
The retreat of glaciers since 1850 affects the availability of fresh water for irrigation and domestic use, mountain recreation, animals and plants that depend on glacier-melt, and in the longer term, the level of the oceans...
- List of glaciers in the United States
- Glaciers in Glacier National Park (U.S.)
There are at least 35 named glaciers in Glacier National Park . In 1850, Glacier had 150 glaciers. There are 25 active glaciers remaining in the park today. Since the ice ages stopped 10,000 years ago, there have been many slight climate shifts causing periods of glacier growth or melt-back...