The more than 40 year record of net and seasonal mass-balance records from measurements made by the United States Geological Survey on South Cascade Glacier, Washington, and Wolverine and Gulkana Glaciers, Alaska, shows annual and interannual fluctuations that reflect changes in the controlling climatic conditions at regional and global scales. As the mass-balance record grows in length, it is revealing significant changes in previously described glacier mass-balance behavior, and both inter-glacier and glacier-climate relationships. South Cascade and Wolverine Glaciers are strongly affected by the warm and wet maritime climate of the northeast Pacific Ocean. Their net balances have generally been controlled by winter accumulation, with fluctuations that are strongly related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Recently, warm dry summers have begun to dominate the net balance of the two maritime glaciers, with a weakening of the correlation between the winter balance fluctuations and the PDO. Non-synchronous periods of positive and negative net balance for each glacier prior to 1989 were followed by a 1989-2004 period of synchronous and almost exclusively negative net balances that averaged -0.8 m for the three glaciers.
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Glacier mass-balance fluctuations in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, USA