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Articles by Ross Wehner

Ross Wehner is a freelance writer and professional mountain guide based in Seattle, Wash.

Featured Article

Even 16,500 feet in the air, perched on the steep slope of a volcano in Ecuador, French glaciologist Bernard Francou moves gracefully. Hopping among ice blocks and jagged rock debris, he stops suddenly before a boulder with blue letters painted on its surface.

The thinker: Bernard Francou.

Photo: Bernard Pouyaud, Ecuador Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia e Hidrologia.

“This is where the glacier stopped when I first came here seven years ago,” Francou explains, oblivious to the cold and the drizzle. He then points more than a football field’s distance uphill, where a wall of blue ice marks the present-day terminus of Ecuador’s Antizana glacier.

All over South America, glaciers are meeting the same fate as Antizana: Within the next 15 years, all of the continent’s small glaciers — about 80 percent of the total — will disappear, according to Francou. He should know: As director of research for the French government’s Institute of Research and Development, Francou has been researching tropical glaciers for 15 years, making him one of the foremost experts in the fiel... Read more