Roger Wheate

Monkman Provincial Park is one of many gems in the BC Parks system, but it is remote for many travellers, located on the continental divide northeast from Prince George. Most of the park overlaps with the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark, established in 2015 (the only one in western North America), following the earlier discovery of multiple dinosaur tracks. While the tracks and some features can be easily reached from the town of Tumbler Ridge, e.g. Monkman Lake and Kinuseo Falls, the park glaciers require multi-day trips without recognised trails and are infrequently visited. These glaciers are geographically the closest to the city of Prince George, a straight line distance of ~100km.

The new millennium has seen an ever increasing volume of satellite imagery, often freely available. These enable updated methods for monitoring changes and visualising remote landscapes, using both free and commercial geographic software. We have also acquired high resolution LiDAR data from 2017, enabling detailed 2D and 3D mapping as well as estimating glacier retreat and downwasting. Glaciers represent a valuable park resource as towers for water supply downstream, and moderation of summer stream temperatures, vital for aquatic ecosystems, as well as indicators of climate change.

This study represents a small part of our ongoing efforts to monitor glacier changes in western Canada since the Little Ice Age ended ~1850, and relative rates of change over recent decades. Even if glaciers cannot be reached by park users, they are usually highly rated as a visual attraction.