Danger lurks behind the beauty of the rainbow ice cave

USA Ice caves are at risk of collapsing due to melting, causing death or serious injury to those who venture to access or go inside.

Photo of colorful ice caves in Mount Rainier. Photo: Mathew Nichols

This impressive photo, taken by nature photographer Mathew Nichols of a rainbow-colored ice cave on Mount Rainier, Washington state, attracted great attention when posted on social media in mid-August. "I couldn't believe my eyes. I went to Mount Rainier to explore the ice caves and did not expect them to be so colorful," the photographer shared.

However, on September 2, the US National Park Service (NPS) issued a warning that ice caves look beautiful but can be deadly. The photo shows a meltwater channel beneath a perennial snow field (snow persists even in summer), the NPS explained.

Authorities advise visitors not to approach or enter such ice caves or water channels because they are prone to spontaneous collapse due to melting. The phenomenon is even accelerated at this time of year. Cave collapses, ice and falling rocks can cause death or serious injury to those who venture to approach or go inside. In addition, visitors are at risk of hypothermia due to the combination of cold air temperatures inside and cooler meltwater from the snowfield.

The NPS said that Mount Rainier National Park used to have many famous ice caves but had to close in the 1980s because warming temperatures made them unstable. During the warm months, at low altitudes, small car-sized chunks of ice fall in caves, sometimes with devastating consequences.

Other ice caves that have collapsed have also shown how dangerous they are. In July 2015, one person was killed and five injured when an ice cave in the Baker-Snoqualmie Mountain National Forest near Seattle partially collapsed. Another accident occurred at these caves in 2010, when an 11-year-old girl was killed by a falling iceberg. This year, as the US experiences a particularly hot summer, it is likely that the ice caves will become even more dangerous than usual.

Thu Thao (According to IFL Science )

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