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The slow advance of a calving glacier: Hubbard Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A.

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Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier in North America. In contrast to most glaciers in Alaska and northwestern Canada, Hubbard Glacier thickened and advanced during the 20th century. This atypical behavior is an important example of how insensitive to climate a glacier can become during parts of the calving glacier cycle. As this glacier continues to advance, it will close the seaward entrance to 50 km long Russell Fjord and creat. This paper describes measured changes in ice thickness, ice speed, terminus advance and fjord bathymetry of Hubbard Glacier, as determined from airborne laser altimetry, aerial photogrammetry, satellite imagery and bathymetric measurements. The data show that the lower regions of the glacier have thickened by as much as 83 m in the last 41 years, while the entire glacier increased in volume by 14.1km3. Ice speeds are generally decreasing near the calving face from a high of 16.5 m d-1 in 1948 to 11.5 m d-1 in 2001. The calving terminus advanced at an average rate of about 16 m a-1 between 1895 and 1948 and accelerated to 32 m a-1 since 1948. However, since 1986, the advance of the part of the terminus in Disenchantment Bay has slowed to 28 m a-1. Bathymetric data from the lee slope of the submarine terminal moraine show that between 1978 and 1999 the moraine advanced at an average rate of 32 m a-1, which is the same as that of the calving face.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2003

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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