Friday, September 21, 2018

OIB Alaska Fall 2018: Icy Bay

The second annual campaign of OIB-Alaska happened in August. In a pattern that has become quite common, we were able to gather a lot of lidar and radar data in just a few long days that were interrupted by bad weather. This August was particularly rainy; one of the wettest on record in interior Alaska with some unusually heavy downpours.

We started the fall campaign with a survey of Icy Bay. This is an incredible place with some of the steepest mountains in the world (Mt. St.Elias rises straight out of the ocean and extends to over 5400 m). The combination of ocean, huge mountains and very active glaciers is simply awe inspiring. Below are some impressions:

This is Mt.St.Elias and in the foreground is the bay in front of Tyndall Glacier. A rockfall led to a huge tsunami a few years ago. The tsunami scars are clearly visible along the sides and most of the island in the foreground was swept clear of all vegetation.

This is the other arm of Icy Bay. All of the water in this and the previous picture was glacier covered a hundred years ago.

The Yahtse Glacier is now readvancing.

Icy Bay is full of spectacular water falls

... and some amazing geology.

This is an disintegrating dirty ice berg. This is how glacial material slowly covers proglacial fjord bottoms

Moraine pattern on the nearby Malaspina Glacier

The Malaspina Glacier is rapidly thinning and retreating into a series of proglacial lakes. Some of these lake are only barely separated from the ocean.

A drained lake that formed on top of debris-covered ice

Overview of Icy Bay on the way home.

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