Monday, May 26, 2014

Airborne glacier science

For almost two decades the glaciology group has measured glacier surface elevations in Alaska with a laser flown on (relatively) small aircraft. Originally this was done with a small two-seater piper PA-12, but for the last decade or so from a much more powerful Single Otter turbine aircraft, operated by Paul Claus of Ultima Thule Outfitters. These measurements form the basis of glacier change assessments in the Alaska, the Yukon and much of British Colombia, some of the most rapidly changing areas of the world. Chris Larsen has been in charge of this program for many years, and this year I had the chance to be part of it and deploy a radar to measure ice thickness. The beauty of this program is that you can only fly in the mountains when the weather is good. So we get to see some of the most amazing mountains on Earth during this work. Below are some impressions from this May. I'll put up a few more posts from the different areas we visited.

The Ultima Thule Lodge, from where we base our operations

Frozen glacier lake

Terminus of Logan Glacier

Hanging ice in the St.Elias mountains

Ocean waves reflecting off the shore

Snow runnels. They are common, but I don't know what causes them

Lenticular clouds forming: it's windy!

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