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Hubbard Glacier terminus closure

Hubbard Glacier, near Yakutat, Alaska is the largest non-polar tidewater glacier in the world. It encompasses an area of ~3900 sq. km, flowing 120 km from the flanks of Mt. Logan (5959 m elev) in the Wrangell - St. Elias Mountains (Canada) to sea level where its terminus widens to over 13 km across the head of Disenchantment Bay and the entrance to Russell Fjord. In contrast to most glaciers in Southeast Alaska, Hubbard Glacier is thickening and has been advancing for well over 200 years. The terminal lobe periodically advances so that it touches Gilbert Point and pinches off Russell Fjord (to the right in the topography/bathymetry figure below). This causes the fjord to flood, which affects the water chemistry, sediment concentration, stream gradients and circulation in the fjord.

The basic objectives of this study are to document the formation of the ice dam and analyze the processes, mechanics and factors determining method and style of closure, dam stability and or failure. Understanding the dynamics of the ice margin is crucial to understanding how ice dams are created and their performance as a permanent closure to Russell Fjord. We use ground-based observations (GPS, TLS, time-lapse cameras, ship-surveys) and remote sensing techniques to understand Hubbard Glacier's seasonal flow variability, and closure history.

This project is in collaboration with:

  • Gordon Hamilton, University of Maine
  • David FInnegan and Dan Lawson, CRREL
  • Shad O'Neel, USGS

Hubbard Glacier Papers and Presentations

Papers:

  1. Stearns, L. A., G. S. Hamilton, D. C. Finnegan, D. E. Lawson, S. O’Neel, J. Scheick and C. J. van der Veen. 2015. Seasonal and long-term flow behavior of Hubbard Glacier, Alaska: 1972 – 2012. Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface, doi:10.1002/2014JF003341.
  2. Hubbard Glacier field data is available at glacierresearch.org

Presentations:

  1. Elliott, J., S. O’Neel, and L. A. Stearns. 2015. Observations of dynamic changes at an advancing tidewater glacier: Hubbard Glacier, southeast Alaska. Eos. Trans. AGU, 96, Fall Meeting. San Francisco, CA.
  2. Finnegan, D. C., G. S. Hamilton, L. A. Stearns, A. LeWinter, and A. Fowler. 2013. Monitoring Tidewater Glacier Processes Using A Long-Range Terrestrial LiDAR Scanner; Comparative Results From Helheim Glacier Southeast Greenland and Hubbard Glacier Southeast Alaska, Eos. Trans. AGU, 94, Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA.
  3. Stearns, L. A. and D. C. Finnegan. 2011. Transformative glaciological applications using Terrestrial Laser Scanning, UNAVCO Terrestrial Laser Scanning Workshop, Boulder, CO.
  4. Stearns, L. A., G. S. Hamilton, D. E. Lawson, D. C. Finnegan and S. ONeel. 2011. Inter-annual and intra- seasonal flow variability of Hubbard Glacier,: an advancing tidewater glacier in SE Alaska. Classrooms for Climate, Anchorage, AK.
  5. Finnegan, D.C., L. A. Stearns, G. S. Hamilton and S. O’Neel. 2010. Flow Characteristics of Tidewater Glaciers in Greenland and Alaska using Ground-Based LiDAR. Eos. Trans. AGU, 91, Fall Meet. Suppl. Abstract C21A-0515.
  6. Lawson, D. E., G. S. Hamilton, D. C. Finnegan, L. A. Stearns, B. A. Willems, S. O’Neel, J. A. Goff, S. P. Gulick and M. B. Davis. 2010. Damming of Russell Fiord by Tidewater Hubbard Glacier, Alaska: Role of Subglacial Meltwater in Preventing Closure in 2010. Eos. Trans. AGU, 91, Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract C21B-0535.
  7. Stearns, L. A., G. S. Hamilton, D. E. Lawson, D. C. Finnegan and S. O’Neel. 2010. Inter-annual and intra- seasonal flow variability of Hubbard Glacier an advancing tidewater glacier in SE Alaska. Eos. Trans. AGU, 91, Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract C23A-0583.

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