South Cascade Glacier

Map showing the location of the South Cascade Glacier

Elevation Range: Approximately 1640—2300 meters
Location: Latitude: 48°21'23.00"N, Longitude: 121°3'26.65"W
Area: Late September 2007 = 1.73 km2

Terminus of South Cascade Glacier, July 2013
Terminus of South Cascade Glacier, July 2013

South Cascade Glacier located in a north-northwest facing valley near the crest of the Cascade Range in northwest Washington state. Dominated by a maritime climate, the glacier receives heavy annual precipitation, exceeding 4.5 m in places (PRISM Climate Group, 2006) and is heavily influenced by climate conditions in the Pacific Ocean (Walters and Meier, 1989). In 2007, South Cascade glacier had an area of 1.73 km2 in the 6.14 km2 South South Cascade Lake Basin. The glacier spans nearly 660 m in elevation in the steep sided basin which forms the headwaters of the South Fork of the Cascade River.

In 1959 scientists with the USGS began collecting mass balance data on South Cascade Glacier, one of four "benchmark glaciers" in the US. R Repeated point measurements at established index sites, in conjunction with local meteorology and runoff data, are used to estimate glacier-wide mass balances. These data constitute the longest continuous set of mass-balance data in North America (Josberger and others, 2007) which are used to understand glacier dynamics and hydrology, and to measure the glacier's response to climate change.

Research

South Cascade Glacier research sites and 1958/2013 extents
South Cascade Glacier research sites and 1958/2013 extents
Seasonal mass balance has been monitored at this ablation stake site since 1957.  This stake array includes a time lapse camera and a sun-shielded temperature sensor, maintained at a constant 2m above the glacier surface.
Seasonal mass balance has been monitored at this ablation stake site since 1957. This stake array includes a time lapse camera and a sun-shielded temperature sensor, maintained at a constant 2m above the glacier surface.

In 1959 the USGS began a suite of continuous mass balance measurements at South Cascade Glacier, one of four benchmark glaciers in North America. Extensive glaciological measurements within the basin include: streamflow runoff, precipitation, air temperature, barometric pressure, snow thickness and density, ice ablation, surface speed, and surface altitude. Multiple site visits are made annually for facility maintenance, instrument repair and installation, and direct measurement of snow and ice. There are six stakes dispersed along a center transect from the terminus to the head of the glacier where measurements of ice ablation, and snow depth and density are repeated annually.

Mass balance data summary

23 publications matching the specified parameters were found.

Bidlake, W.R., E. G. Josberger, and M. E. Savoca, 2004, Water, Ice, and Meteorological Measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, Balance Year 2002, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5089, 38 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2004/5089/

Bidlake, W.R., E. G. Josberger, and M. E. Savoca, 2005, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, balance year 2003, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5210, 48 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2005/5210/

Bidlake, W.R., E. G. Josberger, and M. E. Savoca, 2007, Water, Ice, and Meteorological Measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, Balance Years 2004 and 2005, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5055, 70 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2007/5055/

Bidlake, W.R., Josberger, E.G., and M.E. Savoca, 2010, Modeled and measured glacier change and related glaciological, hydrological, and meteorological conditions at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, balance and water years 2006 and 2007, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5143, 82 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5143/

Bitz, C.M. and D. S. Battisti, 1999, Interannual to decadal variability in climate and the glacier mass balance in Washington, Western Canada, and Alaska, Journal of Climate, Vol. 12, p. 3181-3196.
Available at: http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~david/bb99.pdf

Hodge, S.M., D. C. Trabant, R. M. Krimmel, T. A. Heinrichs, R. M. March, and E. G. Josberger, 1998, Climate variations and changes in mass of three glaciers in western North America, Journal of Climate, Vol. 11, no. 9, p. 2161-2179.
Available at: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0442%281998%29011%3C2161%3ACVACIM%3E2.0.CO%3B2

Josberger, E.G., W. R. Bidlake, R. S. March, and B. W. Kennedy, 2007, Glacier mass-balance fluctuations in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, USA, Annals of Glaciology, Vol. 46, p.291-296.
Available at: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/igsoc/agl/2007/00000046/00000001/art00043

Krimmel, R.M., 1989, Mass balance and volume of South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1958-1985, in Oerlemans, J., ed., Glacier fluctuations and climatic change, Dordrecht, Netherlands, Kluwer Academic Publishers, p. 193-206.
Available at: http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-015-7823-3_13#page-1

Krimmel, R.M., 1993, Mass balance, meteorological, and runoff measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1992 balance year, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 93-640, 38 p.
Available at: http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/ofr93640

Krimmel, R.M., 1994, Runoff, precipitation, mass balance, and ice velocity measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1993 balance year, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4139, 34 p.
Available at: http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wri944139

Krimmel, R.M., 1995, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1994 balance year, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 95-4162, 41 p.
Available at: http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wri954162

Krimmel, R.M., 1996, Glacier mass balance using the grid-index method, in Colbeck, S.C., ed., Glaciers, ice sheets and volcanoes--A tribute to Mark F. Meier: U.S. Army Corps of Engineering Laboratory Special Report 96-27, p. 62-68.

Krimmel, R.M., 1996, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1995 balance year, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 96-4174, 37 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/1996/4174/report.pdf

Krimmel, R.M., 1997, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1996 balance year, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 97-4143, 34 p.
Available at: http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wri974143

Krimmel, R.M., 1998, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1997 balance year, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 98-4090, 30 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/1998/4090/report.pdf

Krimmel, R.M., 1999, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1998 balance year, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4049, 36 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/1999/4049/report.pdf

Krimmel, R.M., 2000, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1986 - 1991 balance years, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 00-4006, 77p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/2000/4006/report.pdf

Krimmel, R.M., 2001, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1999 balance year, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4265, 36 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/wri004265/pdf/wri004265.pdf

Krimmel, R.M., 2002, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 2000-01 balance years, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4165, 63 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/wri024165/

Krimmel, R.M., W. V. Tangborn, W. G. Sikonia, and M. F. Meier, 1978, Ice and water balances, South Cascade Glacier, 1957-1977, in International Symposium on the Computation and Prediction of Runoff from Glacier and Glacial Area, Tbilisi, 1978, USSR Academy of Sciences, Section of Glaciology, Data of Glaciological Studies, Publication 38, p. 143-147, 217-219.

McCabe, G.J., and A. G. Fountain, 1995, Relations between atmospheric circulation and mass balance of South Cascade Glacier, Washington, Arctic and Alpine Research, Vol. 27 no.3, p. 226-233.
Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1551953?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Meier, M.F., 1961, Mass budget of South Cascade Glacier, 1957-60, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 424-B, p. B206-B211
Available at: http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/pp424B

Rasmussen, L. A. and H. Conway, 2004, Climate and glacier variability in western North America, Journal of Climate. Vol. 17, no. 9, p. 1804-1815.
Available at: http://earthweb.ess.washington.edu/~lar/p48text.pdf

South Cascade weather station
South Cascade weather station

Meteorological observations began in 1959 with installation of temperature and precipitation instruments at several locations in the basin. At the Salix Creek and Middle Tarn gaging station air temperature is measured with thermistor-based sensors in passively ventilated radiation shields, beween 3 — 3.5 m above the ground. At the Hut, air temperature, wind speed, and incoming solar radiation are measured about 1.5 m above the roof.

Air temperature at a constant height of 2.0 m above the glacier surface has also been collected during summer months for a portion of the period of record at South Cascade Glacier.

Liquid precipitation is measured by means of tipping bucket rain gage at Salix and Middle Tarn gaging stations. These unheated gages do not account for precipitation in the form of snow so the record of precipitation at both sites is limited to summer catch.

Current data available from the South Cascade weather station (USGS 12181110) includes:

  • Temperature, air
  • Wind speed
  • Solar radiation
  • Precipitation
  • Wind Direction

Middle Tarn gaging station.
Middle Tarn gaging station.

Runoff from Middle Tarn basin was computed from discharge of the South Fork of the Cascade River where it empties from Middle Tarn. Details of calculations and determination of rating curves can be found in USGS summaries of balance years.

7 publications matching the specified parameters were found.

Bidlake, W.R., E. G. Josberger, and M. E. Savoca, 2004, Water, Ice, and Meteorological Measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, Balance Year 2002, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5089, 38 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2004/5089/

Bidlake, W.R., E. G. Josberger, and M. E. Savoca, 2005, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, balance year 2003, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5210, 48 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2005/5210/

Bidlake, W.R., E. G. Josberger, and M. E. Savoca, 2007, Water, Ice, and Meteorological Measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, Balance Years 2004 and 2005, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5055, 70 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2007/5055/

Fountain, A.G., and W. V. Tangborn, 1985, The effect of glaciers on streamflow variations, Water Resources Research, Vol. 21, no. 4, p. 579-586.
Available at: http://glaciers.pdx.edu/fountain/MyPapers/Fountain&Tangborn1985.pdf

Krimmel, R.M., 2000, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1986 - 1991 balance years, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 00-4006, 77p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/2000/4006/report.pdf

Krimmel, R.M., 2001, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 1999 balance year, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4265, 36 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/wri004265/pdf/wri004265.pdf

Krimmel, R.M., 2002, Water, ice, and meteorological measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington, 2000-01 balance years, U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4165, 63 p.
Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/wri024165/

South Cascade Glacier has retreated dramatically since the beginning of mass balance studies when the historic photo was taken in 1959.
South Cascade Glacier has retreated dramatically since the beginning of mass balance studies when the historic photo was taken in 1959.

South Cascade glacier, the site of one of North America's longest glacier mass balance records, has been the focus of many facets of glacier research over the years. The world's first radio-echo sounding measurements in temperate ice were conducted on South Cascade Glacier and subglacial water flow have been studied on this glacier, among various other studies aimed at advancing the understanding glaciers. An abbreviated list of published research included in Selected Publications.

Summary of USGS monitoring program

Publications search

Data Summaries for South Cascade Glacier

14 publications matching the specified parameters were found.

Fountain, A.G. and R.W. Jacobel, 1997, Advances in ice radar studies of temperate glaciers, South Cascade Glacier, Washington, Annals of Glaciology, Vol. 24, p. 303-308.

Fountain, A.G., 1989, The storage of water in, and hydraulic characteristics of, the firn of South Cascade Glacier, Washington State, U.S.A., Annals of Glaciology, Vol. 13, p. 69-75.
Available at: http://glaciers.pdx.edu/fountain/MyPapers/Fountain1989_FirnWater.pdf

Fountain, A.G., 1992, Automatic system for measuring and recording fluorometry data from multiple sources, South Cascade Glacier, Washington, In Subitzky, Seymour, eds., Selected papers in the hydrologic sciences, 1988-1992: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2340, p. 39-49.
Available at: http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wsp2340

Fountain, A.G., 1992, Subglacial water flow inferred from stream measurements at South Cascade Glacier, Washington State, U.S.A., Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 38, no. 128, p. 51-64.

Fountain, A.G., 1993, Geometry and flow conditions of subglacial water at South Cascade Glacier, Washington State, U.S.A.- An analysis of tracer injections, Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 39, no. 131, p. 143-156.

Fountain, A.G., 1994, Borehole water-level variations and implications for the subglacial hydraulics of South Cascade Glacier, Washington State, USA, Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 40, no. 135, p. 293-304.

Fountain, A.G., and B. H. Vaughn, 1995, Changing drainage patterns within South Cascade Glacier, Washington, U.S.A, 1964-1992, International Association of Hydrological Sciences, vol. 228, p. 379-386.
Available at: http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/70018744

Fountain, A.G., and M. A. Fulk, 1984, South Cascade Glacier bibliography, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 84-441, 14 p.
Available at: http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/ofr84441

Krimmel, R.M., 1970, Gravimetric ice thickness determination, South Cascade Glacier, Washington, Northwest Science, Vol. 44, no. 3, p. 147-153.
Available at: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/org_nws/NWSci%20journal%20articles/1970-1978/1970%20vol%2044/vol%2044%20no%203/v44%20pg147%20K

Meier, M.F., 1966, Some glaciological interpretations of remapping programs on South Cascade, Nisqually, and Klawatti Glaciers, Washington, Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 3, no. 6, p. 811-818.
Available at: http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/pdf/10.1139/e66-063

Meier, M.F., and W. V. Tangborn, 1965, Net budget and flow of South Cascade Glacier, Washington, Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 5, no. 41, p. 547-566.

Tangborn, W.V., 1980, Two models for estimating climate glacier relationships in the North Cascades, Washington, U.S.A., Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 25, no. 91, p. 3-20.
Available at: http://www.igsoc.org:8080/journal/25/91/igs_journal_vol25_issue091_pg3-21.pdf

Vaughn, B.H. and A. G. Fountain, 2005, Stable isotopes and electrical conductivity as keys to understanding water pathways and storage in South Cascade Glacier, Washington, Annals of Glaciology, Vol. 40, p. 107-112.
Available at: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/igsoc/agl/2005/00000040/00000001/art00019

Watts, R.D., A. W. England, R. S. Vickers, R.S., and M. F. Meier, 1975, Radio echo sounding on the South Cascade Glacier, Washington, using a long-wavelength, mono-pulse source, Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 15, no. 73, p. 459-461.


South Cascade Glacier aerial image time-series
1928
1928
1959
1959
1979
1979
2006
2006
2014
2014

Ski tracks connect survey points on a spring survey trip at South Cascade Glacier. 5/3/2013
Ski tracks connect survey points on a spring survey trip at South Cascade Glacier. 5/3/2013
Guided by GPS navigation, researchers use a sled to carry ablation stakes and equipment between sites. 5/5/2013
Guided by GPS navigation, researchers use a sled to carry ablation stakes and equipment between sites. 5/5/2013
Research team installs telemetry equipment at stake P1. 5/4/2013
Research team installs telemetry equipment at stake P1. 5/4/2013
Seasonal snow has melted, leaving this ablation stake at terminus site.
Seasonal snow has melted, leaving this ablation stake at terminus site.
A researcher traverses the terminus of South Cascade Glacier to reach the lowest ablation stake.
A researcher traverses the terminus of South Cascade Glacier to reach the lowest ablation stake.
Fieldwork in early May reveals a snow-covered landscape as researchers climb a chute on South Cascade Glacier. 5/3/2013
Fieldwork in early May reveals a snow-covered landscape as researchers climb a chute on South Cascade Glacier. 5/3/2013
Researchers traverse South Cascade Glacier.
Researchers traverse South Cascade Glacier.
Preparing to collect a snow core sample using Kovacs ice drill.  Steam drill in background is used to drill small holes for inserting ablation stakes.
Preparing to collect a snow core sample using Kovacs ice drill. Steam drill in background is used to drill small holes for inserting ablation stakes.
Recording field data at a stake site. 6/4/2011
Recording field data at a stake site. 6/4/2011