Photo Friday: A Look at Wolverine Glacier

Wolverine Glacier is a valley glacier with maritime climate and high precipitation rates situated in the coastal mountains of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. This glacier has been named a “reference glacier” by the World Glacier Monitoring Service because it has been monitored and observed since 1965/66. A majority of the U.S. government’s climate research is taken from 50 years of glacier studies from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Scientists first decided to take measurements of Wolverine Glacier’s surface mass balance in 1966, using these measurements, as well as local meteorology and runoff data, to estimate glacier-wide mass balances, according to USGS. This data, which makes up the longest continuous set of mass-balance data in North America, allows scientists to better understand glacier dynamics and hydrology, as well as the glaciers’ response to climate change.

As temperatures rise, the retreat of glaciers in Alaska is contributing to global sea-level rise. The Wolverine Glacier has been experiencing more variability in winter temperatures, and scientists are continuing to evaluate how glaciers like the Wolverine respond to climate change. Take a look at GlacierHub’s collection of images from Wolverine Glacier.

 

Scientists checking ablation stakes at Wolverine Glacier (Source: USGS).

 

A weather station set up to measure the spatial differences in climate that influence mass balance (Source: USGS).

 

Researchers use ground penetrating radar to determine the depth of the snow on Wolverine Glacier (Source: USGS).

 

The crevassed surface of Wolverine Glacier shows layers within the ice and snow (Source: USGS).

 

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