Photo Friday: Kevin Lyons Captures Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier, near Alaska’s capital city of Juneau, is one of the most visited and oft-photographed glaciers in the United States. Kevin Lyons, an Alaska-based adventurer, uses his lens to offer a fresh angle on Mendenhall. Lyons is a self-described “photography enthusiast with a passion for travel and the outdoors.”

Mendenhall Glacier is rapidly retreating due to climate change (Source: Kevin Lyons).

 

Dirt and cryoconite deposits on the ice surface inhibit the glacier’s ability to reflect solar radiation. Melt pools form on the ice surface, accelerating ablation by creating pores that allow water to penetrate the glacier.

Soot and debris cover Mendenhall’s surface (Source: Kevin Lyons).

 

Mendenhall’s retreat is well-documented, partly thanks to time lapse imagery provided by scientific cameras, like the one pictured below. The 2012 film, Chasing Ice, highlighted Mendenhall’s retreat to effect of global warming on the planet’s glaciers.

One of the research cameras installed to monitor Mendenhall’s retreat (Source: Kevin Lyons).

 

Mendenhall’s famous ice caves, pictured below, have collapsed since Lyons visited in 2014. A Frequently Asked Question on the U.S. Forest Service website addresses the rumor that ice caves exist at Mendenhall: “There have been several ice caves in past years, but the cave that appears in many recent internet photos has collapsed and disappeared. It was located along the west flank of the glacier but the ice has completely melted out of that area and no other caves are present.”

This image from within a Mendenhall ice cave was captured in 2014. This cave and others like it at Mendenhall have since collapsed due to melting (Source: Kevin Lyons).

 

An indirect benefit for visitors and residents of Juneau is Lake Mendenhall, which did not exist prior to 1930. The lake formed due to excessive melt. The tongue of the glacier is expected to retreat to the point where it no longer terminates in the lake itself. According to Lyons, when the ice surface freezes just right “the hockey games out there are epic.”

Skaters enjoy an indirect benefit of the glacier’s melt; Lake Mendenhall (Source: Kevin Lyons).

 

Read More on GlacierHub:

Inspiring Girls Expeditions: Encouraging the Next Generation of Women Scientists

What the Newest Global Glacier-Volume Estimate Means for High Mountain Asia

The New Science Editors of the Journal of Glaciology

Leave a Reply