The Athabaska Glacier as viewed from the northeast. The Columbia Icefield which feeds the Athabaska Glacier is visible on the horizon.
Fifty years ago the Athabaska Glacier was a tourist attraction because it was easily accessible from the nearby Icefields Parkway [highway]. Today, if you want a close look at the glacier you will need to drive at least a kilometer from the highway.
The lower part of Athabaska Glacier is now largely a stagnant tongue of ice which is downwasting (melting). It remains a tourist attraction for the time being, with large-wheeled buses driving around on an "ice road" (visible) and many tourists hiking around taking pictures.
This is the source of the mighty Athabaska River and it's ironic that one of the largest carbon-based energy developments in the world (the Alberta Tar Sands) is partly dependent on the Athabaska River for water. A source that will have a very diminished flow when the glaciers have wasted away due to global warming. "What goes around, comes around!
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