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Logo bar of the Alaska Public Lands Information Center which are located in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Tok and Ketchikan
An arial view of a long and wide glacier winding between jagged mountain peaks in the Alaska Range.
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Glacial Fun Facts
 
Digital animation of Bear Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park
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QuickTime Player is required to view this animation. Click HERE for the free download. 

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.

Bear Glacier
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.  



Two visitors reading a wayside display while viewing Exit Glacier
NPS/Kent Miller

These are some fun facts about Glaciers!

  • When ice breaks off from the face of a glacier, it is called "calving." This is how icebergs are formed.
  • About three-fourths of all fresh water in Alaska is stored as glacial ice. This is several times more than all the water stored in the state's lakes, ponds, rivers, and reservoirs.
  • The longest glacier in Alaska is the Bering Glacier which is more than 100 miles long.
  • The 76 mile-long Hubbard Glacier is the longest "tidewater glacier" in North America.
  • The greatest concentration of calving tidewater glaciers occurs in Prince William Sound, with 20 active tidewater glaciers. The largest is Columbia Glacier.
  • A "crevasse" is a crack on the surface of a glacier and can be more than 100 feet deep.
  • Glaciers can deposit rocks and other debris into large mounds known as "moraines."
  • The rocks in a glacier can be ground up into a fine "rock flour," which is then deposited by glacial ice or water. Over 1,500 feet of this silt has been deposited in Turnagain Arm, creating dangerous mudflats.




 
Close up of a purple lupine flower. Lush green grass and smaller lupines are in the background. Did You Know?
Lupine, a member of the legume family, can be found in many regions of Alaska. Its flowered stalk resembles purple pea pods and is poisonous to humans if consumed.