Saturday, May 12, 2012

#989 Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, USA

Relief map. Source: Wikipedia
A glacier is an amazing thing to behold - centuries of collected snow and ice, piled up, a weather record like no other that is living, moving, mass that is both affected by and affects its environment, carving valleys and mountains.

Glacier Bay National Park's highest mountain, Mt Fairweather.
What's amazing about Glacier Bay National Park (not to be confused with Glacier National Park in Montana), is the sheer number of glaciers dotted in and out of the fjords and mountains near Juneau, Alaska. A national park since 1925, and later enlarged to include other park areas, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. What would have been amazing to see is the difference between the turn of the 20th Century and now -- in 100 or so years, the entire bay (30 odd miles) has been carved by the glaciers whereas before it used to calve directly into the Gulf of Alaska.

GBNP includes 9 tidewater glaciers, which mean that they calve directly into the ocean -- impressive considering they began high in the mountains, and sometimes the face of the glaciers is several miles wide.

The glacial moraine left behind by a receding glacier

The long path down the valley.

A great image of a very steep glacier with a huge 'accumulation zone'

Another great way to see the glaciers is from a cruise!

A cruise ship sails past the face through the glacial shoal.
30 miles of Glacier Bay that has been created by the glaciers over the last century.
Glacier from glacier head at the top of the mountain to glacier foot or terminus, sometimes called the face.
A calving glacier -- the pattern in the water shows where it calved from and the drifting ice pieces.
The patterns and lines of crevasses showing the dirt collected as the glacier moves down the valley.
The cruise ship is dwarfed by a split glacier behind.

The green glacial lakes above Glacier Bay known as cirques.

The best way to truly appreciate it's awe-inspiring ice rivers is a flight over: I took mine from Haines.

Source of information: Wikipedia 'Glacier Bay National Park', 'Tidewater glacial cycle' and 'Glacier'
Two glaciers meet at the ocean.

No comments:

Post a Comment