Thursday, March 10th, 2011
Mendenhall Glacier Retreat

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Alaska’s most visited glacier is undergoing dramatic changes in response to climate and environmental changes in temperature and precipitation. According to University of Alaska Southeast researchers, the terminus lost 540 feet between 2009 and 2010. This is more than twice the yearly average of ice loss between 1997 and 2009. Here’s a link to a time lapse video created by the ‘Extreme Ice Survey’ that really visualizes changes between May 2007 and September 2010:
http://www.extremeicesurvey.org/index.php/new_gallery/timelapse_41/
I took this shot from the lateral moraine on the west side of the glacier earlier this week. Notice the person standing on the glacier near the edge on left side of the picture. The huge blue chunks of ice off-center to the right have already detached from the terminus of the glacier. There’s a lot of speculation as to when the glacier will have receded beyond the margins of the lake. It could happen as soon as in five years.

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