Scientists Held a “Funeral” for a Glacier That Melted in Central Oregon

It may not come as a surprise that Oregon’s glaciers aren’t what they used to be. But there’s surprisingly little data on just how badly they’re doing.

The Three Sisters

Yesterday, Oregon scientists held a funeral for a melted glacier on South Sister, both in Salem and on the mountain itself.

As Oregon Public Broadcasting first reported, the demonstrations were organized by Oregon Glaciers Institute, an organization formed in May to monitor the health of the state's glaciers.

In August, the group discovered that Clark Glacier in the Central Cascades had melted to less than half its size. Since only a few patches of ice remain and it no longer produces flowing water, the group declared the century-old glacier dead.

On Sunday, the institute organized the funeral for the glacier on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem. Attendees wore black and group member Anders Carlson delivered a eulogy, which included a reading of Robert Frost's "Fire and Ice."

Meanwhile, a smaller group organized by the institute planned to hold a vigil at the site of the former Clark Glacier. Held back by wind and rain, they observed a moment of silence at a lower elevation instead.

It may not come as a surprise that Oregon's glaciers aren't what they used to be. But there's surprisingly little data on just how badly they're doing. There is no oversight agency dedicated to glaciers. Oregon once had at least 43 glaciers, but now that number is unknown.

Earlier this year, Oregon Glacier Institute declared that South Sister's Thayer Glacier, which appeared on U.S. Forest Service maps as recently as 2016, was also gone.

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