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This animation uses satellite imagery and digital elevation information to create a 3-dimensional depiction of the Bear Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. Created with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) animation tools, this video simulates what a person would see if they flew over Bear Glacier in an aircraft.
Inside Kenai Fjords National Park south of Seward in the Chugach Mountains, the long, graceful curves of Bear Glacier trend southeast to its terminus adjacent to Resurrection Bay. Whales, bears, puffins, and seals make their home in this coastal region of constant change. A dark stripe in this massive glacier’s interior shows rocks and debris picked up by its downhill journey under the weight of ice and the undeniable force of gravity. Glaciers form when more snow accumulates in winter than is lost in summer. The accumulating snow is compressed into ice, which flows to lower elevations. Ice that melts on the lower end of a glacier tends to be replaced by snow and ice from above. Glaciers that end on land, such as Bear Glacier, become thinner over time if less snow falls, or if temperatures rise. They become thicker if snowfall increases and/or temperatures decrease. Glaciers are sensitive to changes in regional and global climate.