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Logo bar of the Alaska Public Lands Information Center which are located in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Tok and Ketchikan
mountainous glacier fed body of water in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
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View Glaciers, Icebergs and Sea Ice
 
Bear Glacier (Left), Aialik Glacier (Center) and Holgate Glacier (Right)

Massive. Iconic.  Alive. 

The glaciers of Alaska help shape and define the state as it is today, creating everything from mudflats to mountains. 



Moulin on Exit Glacier
NPS
Exit Glacier

What is a glacier?
Glaciers are slow moving bodies of ice that form from the mass compression of snow over hundreds of years. Physically, glaciers behave very similar to rivers, which is why glaciers are often termed "rivers of ice." As glaciers advance, they engulf everything in their path, grind it up, forming glacial silt at the toe of the glacier. Many valley's and lakes have been carved out by glaciers around the world; including parts of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

How are glaciers formed?
When snow accumulates in the same location, year after year, glaciers tend to form and advance. These areas are generally at higher altitudes because temperatures need to remain cool, so snow is less likely to melt. As the snow accrues, it compresses, which forces the snow to re-crystallizes into ice forming glaciers.

Types of Alaskan Glaciers
The most common type of glaciers found in Alaska are mountain glaciers, due to our numerous mountain ranges. Other types of glaciers are piedmont, hanging and tidewater glaciers.

 



Classic Video: Living Glaciers


Note: This Embedded video resides on the official ALaska Nation Parks YouTube channel

A glacier near Valdez
Aric Hudson
Glacier near Valdez

Glaciers in Alaska

There are over 100,000 glaciers in Alaska, covering 4.5% of the state - that's 29 thousand square miles. The Malaspina Glacier in the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve covers about 850 square miles, which is almost the same size as the state of Rhode Island.



There are quite a few glaciers that are very accessible within the state, and even a few that you can walk on and see up close. Go to http://alaskacenters.gov/glaciers-in-alaska.cfm to see an overview of the easiest accessible glaciers to see while in the state of Alaska.



Glacier Quiz

Think you're a glacier whiz? Then take our Glacier Quiz! Ten questions to tickle your funny bone and test your brain! To begin go to http://alaskacenters.gov/glacier-quiz.cfm



Climate Change

Whatever the cause may be, no one doubts that the world is warming up. Glaciers are a first-class indicator, because many are receding faster than ever before. Explore this phenomenon with the United States Geological Survey and their website on glaciers and climate change at http://www.usgs.gov/global_change/glaciers/default.asp

 



Amount of old ice in Arctic, 1987-2013


Note: This Embedded video resides on the official NOAA YouTube channel



Cruise ship passengers view glacier
Glacier Fun Facts!
Learn some quick, fun facts about glaciers!
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Blue glacial ice
Glaciers
Learn fun and interesting facts about glaciers and find viewing opportunities in Alaska.
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A glacier in Valdez
The Glacier Quiz
If you're a glacier whiz, then take our glacier quiz!
more...
 
A profile view of a Spotted Sandpiper, with a long orange beak and thin yellow legs, standing on tan colored rocks. Did You Know?
Many birds annually migrate up to 20,000 miles between South America and Alaska in order to breed and raise young, returning south prior to the return of the Arctic winter.