Thursday, September 8, 2016

Operation IceBridge Alaska: August campaign

Twice a year (in May and August) I am part of a NASA funded team to survey as many glaciers as we can with lasers and radar. We cover most of the glaciated parts of the State of Alaska and this always gives us a great view of these areas. Here are some impressions:

Nizina and Rohn Glacier in nice light

The Hole-In-The-Wall near Skolai Pass

I got the opportunity to fly to the White River Valley and look at a landslide that happened in Fall 2015 and was of very impressive dimensions. It turns out that the day before we flew there, some National Park employees had witnessed another landslide that resulted from the collapse of a hanging glacier.

This shows Mt. Sulzer with the break-out area. The fresh landslide is a mixture of ice and debris. The much wider debris covered area is from an enormous slide that occurred last fall.

The landslide originated from the collapse of the hanging glacier on the right side of the picture.

Last fall's landslide ranged many kilometers into the creek delta and mowed down every tree in its way.

Right next to the landslide we found a small but vigorously surging glacier

Many glaciers in the Chugach Mountains have almost no snow left in August. Not a good sign for glaciers!

Some freshly calved blue ice at Columbia Glacier

A view down the West branch of Columbia Glacier. It is hard to believe that these glaciers were still joined just a few years ago.

Another glacier with very little snow left. It also nicely shows its layered structure

Mt. Logan: Always impressive

Here was a surprise: One branch of the Miles Glacier (flows into the Copper River) is surging. The surge margins are clearly visible here.

And another mixed ice/rock fall.