YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (WSVN) – The recent winter season in Yosemite National Park, characterized by its severity and subsequent temporary closure, has brought both hope and concern for the park’s rapidly-disappearing glaciers.

While the heavy snowfall has provided temporary leisure, scientists warn that the long-term prognosis remains bleak for these iconic natural formations.

Just two decades ago, Yosemite Valley was engulfed by a massive ice sheet measuring a staggering 2,000 feet in thickness, shaping the peaks and valleys that visitors marvel at today. The current reality reveals a stark contrast, with only five small glaciers remaining in and around the park.

Since the early exploration of the region in 1872, scientists have diligently studied these glaciers, closely monitoring their decline. Data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey since 1883 indicate that these majestic formations have lost approximately 90% of their mass.

Glaciers form through the accumulation of snowfall over time, transforming into permanent fields of ice that flow outward and downward. However, warmer temperatures and prolonged periods of drought over the past few decades have hastened the melting process of the remaining glaciers.

Nights with elevated temperatures have contributed to longer periods of melt-off, worsening the situation.

While this winter’s exceptional snowpack has temporarily halted the rapid melting, climate trends continue to point toward the eventual disappearance of these glaciers. Scientists fear that Conness Glacier, in particular, is likely to vanish within the next five to 10 years.

Geologist Dr. Greg Stock lamented said the loss of glaciers could be compared to a grim situation, like losing a loved one.

“You know, I’ve heard people compare it to visiting a loved one in the hospital and you know that they’re terminal,” said Stock. “I’m a geologist, I tend to think of things a little more scientifically, but there are times when it kind of feels like that. Like this thing that I know really well and I care about – it’s disappearing before my eyes.”

The impending loss of Yosemite National Park’s glaciers holds more than just aesthetic implications. These icy formations serve as a vital water source, especially during the late summer months.

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