Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yakutat Glacier again

In early July we headed back to Yakutat Glacier to maintain GPS instruments and do some more radar. The lower few kilometers of the glacier are about to break apart into the lake and several large ice bergs have already become loose.

Here is Joanna dragging a radar sled over the ice
Icebergs are always interesting, as they came in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Here is one with a large circular conduit from a former englacial water channel.

On the way back to Fairbanks we flew across Icy Bay, an impressive bay north of Yakutat. The glaciers there have all retreated to the end of the bay and drop very rapidly from the high mountains to the ocean. The terrain rises very rapidly from sea level all the way to the top of St. Elias at 5489 m (18008 ft) above sea level over a distance of only about 30 km; surely some of the most amazing topography on the planet.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The International School of Blablabla

Ok, so this post comes a bit late... From 7-17 June we organized the First International University of Alaska Fairbanks McCarthy Summer School of Glaciology or the 'International School of Blablabla' as it came to be known. It was hosted at the wonderful Wrangell Mountains Center, in the old hardware store, which is a leftover of the copper mining era that came to a sudden end in the late 1930s.

McCarthy must be one of the prettiest towns in Alaska. It is one of the access points to the Wrangell-St.Elias National Park, a park the size of Switzerland. Conveniently for a glaciology summer school, it is located right at the foot of the Kennicott Glacier. From the nearby Kennicott, which was the location of the copper mining activities, one can easily access the Root Glacier and enjoy the view of the enormous Stairway Icefall.The mountain sides are host to many rock glaciers, which are ice-cored talus slopes that slowly creep out of their valleys.
We had a one-day excursion to the other side of the Root Glacier to Donohue Lake which drains every year through the bottom of the ice. There was a nice channel cut into the ice, which was now empty and would have been big enough to park a car in (if you could get it there).