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Embracing the Chill: United Nations International Year of Glacier Protection

Crowfoot Glacier in Banff National Park in Alberta. (Axel Tardieu/CBC)

In a world where climate change poses a significant threat to our planet, the United Nations has declared 2023 as the International Year of Glacier Protection. This initiative aims to shed light on the vital role glaciers play in our ecosystems, the imminent dangers they face, and the collective responsibility we share in preserving these frozen giants for future generations.


The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution to declare 2025 the International Year of Glaciers' Preservation — a concept Coldwater Lab director John Pomeroy says is rooted close to home in Canmore, Alta. 

The declaration is something researchers in Canada hope will help wake up the world that it needs to change course. More than symbolic, it's a year when scientists will release findings and share climate models and projections linked to the disappearance of glaciers, and conferences will raise the profile of this issue.  CBC

The Importance of Glaciers:

Glaciers, those majestic rivers of ice that carve through mountain landscapes, are not merely awe-inspiring natural wonders. They serve as crucial indicators of climate change and play a pivotal role in regulating global water resources. Glaciers act as frozen reservoirs, storing freshwater and releasing it gradually, sustaining ecosystems and providing water for millions downstream.

Climate Change Threats:

However, the very existence of glaciers is under threat due to rising global temperatures. As temperatures soar, glaciers worldwide are melting at an alarming rate, leading to rising sea levels, disruptions in water supply, and the loss of vital habitats. The consequences are far-reaching, impacting not only the environment but also the communities that depend on glacier-fed rivers for their survival.

The Call to Action:

The International Year of Glacier Protection serves as a clarion call for global cooperation in the face of this impending crisis. Governments, communities, and individuals are urged to take meaningful steps towards reducing carbon emissions, adopting sustainable practices, and supporting policies that protect these vulnerable icy landscapes.

Educating the Masses:

Education plays a pivotal role in this endeavor. As part of the International Year of Glacier Protection, initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the significance of glaciers and the urgent need for their preservation are being rolled out. Schools, universities, and community organizations are encouraged to incorporate educational programs that highlight the environmental, social, and economic impacts of glacier loss.

Sustainable Tourism:

Tourism is another key aspect that can either contribute to the problem or become a part of the solution. Sustainable tourism practices, such as responsible trekking and eco-friendly accommodations, can help minimize the impact of human activities on fragile glacier ecosystems. By fostering an understanding of the delicate balance between tourism and conservation, we can ensure that future generations can continue to marvel at these natural wonders.


The United Nations International Year of Glacier Protection is not just a symbolic gesture but a collective commitment to safeguarding one of Earth's most vulnerable ecosystems. As we navigate the challenges of climate change, let us embrace the chill and work together to ensure that glaciers continue to sculpt our landscapes and provide life-sustaining resources for generations to come. It's time to act, for the glaciers, for our planet, and for the future.

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