It was formed over 240,000 years ago during the Great Glaciation, and today is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies, covering over 200 square km. Located along the Alberta/BC Border, the ice is a significant barometer of the climate crisis. The Columbia Icefield is home to one of the most visited Glaciers in North America. Hundreds of thousands of visitors, discover and witness an epic change each year. The ice is retreating faster than ever, but the story here is not just the loss of a piece of Canada’s iconic landscape, which is problematic in itself, it’s what’s occurring as a result of it.
“There’s actually a reservoir of pollutants that have been in the atmosphere over the last several decades to a century or so stored in those Icefields” says Martin Sharp, Glaciologist, and science professor at the University of Alberta.
The melting is opening a vault of lethal contaminants, creating a crisis unlike any other. Find out just how far the water flows on this episode of the Big Blue Marble.