Monday, May 25, 2015

Mapping the Malaspina Glacier

The Malaspina Glacier is a large so-called piedmont glacier. It is fed by the vast icefields of the Coastal Mountains and extends out to the coastal plain. Much of its ice is at very low elevation (near sea level). A large part of it has become stagnant and has been thinning for decades now. We mapped the glacier with radar to see how much of the base is located below sea level. That makes it particularly vulnerable to rapid change.

Much of the ice has become so stagnant that trees are growing on top of the glacier!

The vast expense of the Malaspina Glacier

Collapsing ice is the only indication that this tree-covered landscape is actually a glacier

Looking out from near St.Elias towards the Pacific Ocean

Ocean water is reaching the glacier front in this lagoon. If the glacier started to calve ice into lakes like this, the demise of the ice could be accelerated greatly.

Moraine patterns

An example of a radar profile. Radar waves can penetrate several 100 m's into glacier ice and measure its thickness.

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