The little planet of the Columbia Icefield is located in the Canadian Rockies, astride the Continental Divide of North America, between the towns of Jasper and Banff. The icefield borders the north western tip of Banff National Park and the southern end of Jasper National Park next to the Icefields Parkway. It is about 300 km² in area, up to 350 metres in depth and receives up to seven metres of snowfall per year. The icefield feeds eight major glaciers including the Athabasca Glacier where Brewster Travel run tours in the comfort of large “snowcoaches”.
The Athabasca River and the North Saskatchewan River originate in the Columbia Icefield, as do tributaries of the Columbia River. Because the icefield is on a triple Continental Divide these waters flow ultimately north to the Arctic Ocean, east to the North Atlantic Ocean and south and west to the Pacific Ocean.
Unfortunately this little planet is getting smaller every year as the glacier melts…The glacier currently recedes at a rate of about 5 metres per year and has receded over 1.5 km in the past 125 years, losing over half of its volume. It moves down from the icefield at a rate of several centimetres per day.