Monday September 12, 2022

San Francisco Chronicle

Mount Shasta, the widely recognizable face of California’s far north, has lost almost all its defining snow cover for a second straight year.

Another summer of scorching temperatures, punctuated by the recent heat wave, has melted most of the mountain’s lofty white crown, typically a year-round symbol of the north state’s enduring wilds.

The lack of snow not only means unfamiliar views of the bare 14,000-foot-plus giant, it is hastening the demise of the mountain’s glaciers. While the seven named ice sheets have been retreating for years, if not decades, the diminishing snow, which helps insulate the glaciers and keep them from thawing, has caused an unprecedented melt-off: About 20% of the glaciers’ ice, and possibly more, is expected to have vanished over the past two summers.

The renowned Whitney Glacier — the longest glacier in California — lost up to 9 inches of ice depth a day during this month’s record heat, according to Mauri Pelto, director of the North Cascades Glacier Climate Project and a professor of environmental science at Nichols College in Massachusetts.

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