Sunday, September 16, 2018

Operation IceBridge Alaska Spring Campaign 2018

I've been getting really slack about posting, so here is an effort to start catching up. Below is an assortment of pictures taken during the Alaska OIB campaign in May 2018. During these campaigns we fly a lidar (laser scanner) over repeat profiles to document glacier change over large parts of Alaska. We also use a radar to measure ice thickness. This year we had an additional instrument: a snowdepth radar from the University of Kansas.

Below are some impressions from the flights:

Hubbard Glacier continues its advance. This glacier has been threatening to close off an entire part of a fjord, but so far strong tidal currents have kept this gap open, after it briefly closed in 2002, causing an enormous outburst flood when the resulting moraine dam broke. The glacier advances and retreats seasonally, but didn't come close to closing this spring.

West side of the advancing Hubbard Glacier front

This is the gap at Gilbert Point, where the two parts of the fjord (Disenchantment Bay and Russell Fjord) meet. It has closed temporally in 1986 and 2002, but the 2002 outburst flood removed a lot of sediment and tidal currents have managed to keep a gap open.

The Klutlan Glacier surge

Several surges have taken place in the Wrangell/St. Elias in the past few years, but most of them are done now. The one exception is the Klutlan Glacier, which is still going strong.

This is the lower part of the Klutlan. The ice in the foreground is surging, but the glacier continues many kilometers into very stagnant ice. The background covers a vast area of debris covered ice with trees and vegetation on it. It will be interesting to see if the surge reaches that area.

Mt. Steele: A large rock/ice fall broke away from this mountain several years ago and covers a large area of the Steele Glacier

Stranded ice that resulted from ice draw down in the upper areas of the Steele Glacier

The big ones: Mt.Logan (left) and Mt. St.Elias (right)
The Stairway ice fall on the Root Glacier is one of the largest ice falls in the world (~1500 m). At the bottom of it, it forms these beautiful wave ogives. Each crest is separated by one year of ice flow.

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