Monday, June 2, 2014

Yakutat: a glaciologist's paradise

Yakutat, Alaska, is a small town on the coast. The area around this little town hosts some incredible mountains and glaciers, some of them among the most rapidly retreating in the world, others quite happily advancing. Here are some impressions from our recent flights.

Turner Glacier seems to surge about every 2-3 years. It repeats surges more rapidly than any other glacier I know of. The surges are very violent, and nothing on the glacier remains uncrevassed.

Turner Glacier: the surge advances a front right into the ocean. It is one of the few (if not the only) surging tidewater glacier in Alaska.

Hubbard Glacier is an anomaly in this area: it has been steadily advancing during the past more than 100 years

Strong tidal currents manage to keep this gap open for now.
Hubbard Glacier threatens to close off this gap at Gilbert Point.

Looking out Yakutat Glacier into Harlequin Lake. The glacier has retreated dramatically in the past few years. It might have accelerated in the process, at least it looks much more crevassed than a few years ago

The glacier has separated into two different glaciers recently. The ice in the lake has already broken off and will soon flush out

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