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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

From Glacier...To Lake

From Glacier...To Lake

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, November 1, 2016/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, sustainability, environment, climate change

         Re-photography of Desolation Valley, Alaska, 1986- 2013 (creidt: Landsat Infrared scans)

In 1986, Desolation Valley in Glacier Bay National Park was filled with ice all the way to a bay on the Gulf of Alaska. In the intervening 30 years, the situation has radically changed and significant loss of glacial ice has occurred.

According to measurements of satellite data by various researchers with the American Geophysical Union:

"by 2010, the southern half of the valley had opened and the terminus of Desolation Glacier and Lituya Glacier (red arrows), representing a 3.3 mile section of glacier, had been lost. In 2013, the northern half of the valley still ice-filled by the Desloation-Fairweather Glacier was breaking up but by 2014 it had completely broken up. By 2016, the collapse was total and the new terminus (yellow arrow) represented nearly a 3.5 mile retreat since 2010, a total loss of 4 square miles of ice. The lake level had dropped to expose a delta that had been submerged in 2013 and 2014 (pink arrow). The lake had expanded in area but lost in depth." 

Alaska and the rest of the Arctic are experiencing one of the fastest rates of temperature increase anywhere due to climate change. Glaciers and permafrost are particularly sensitive to temperature and good indicators of this change. Re-photography with infrared imagery is a powerful tool to document the rate and level of these changes as Desolation Valley shows.



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