American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Glacier Studies in Alaska, 1941

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  • Publication Year: 1942

Glacier Studies in Alaska, 1941

During August and September a party made up of Dr. Donald B. Lawrence, Maynard L. Miller, Anthony T. Ladd, and Wm. O. Field, Jr., spent six weeks studying the coastal glaciers of southeastern Alaska. The work was carried out under the auspices of The American Geographical Society of New York with the active cooperation of the United States Forest Service. All the glaciers of Glacier Bay were visited and photographed and the positions of many of the ice fronts were triangulated. Extensive mapping was done around Muir Inlet to indicate the changes caused by the recent extensive recession and shrinkage of Muir Glacier and the neighboring remnant icefields. Along the coast to the southeast of Glacier Bay the interesting glaciers of Taku Inlet, Tracy Arm, Fords Terror, Endicott Arm, and Thomas Bay were also visited and the positions of their termini established.

Dr. Lawrence continued the ecological studies made by Prof. William S. Cooper of the University of Minnesota in 1916, 1921, 1929, and 1935. Field continued his own observations of the glaciers of this part of Alaska started by him in 1926 and 1935 as part of the series of periodic observations begun by John Muir in 1879 and carried on by various observers since then.

In general the results indicate continued recession of the glaciers of Glacier Bay, though as important exceptions, the termini of two large glaciers are now advancing. Of the other large glaciers visited, for which comparative observations are possible, two have advanced in the last decades, two have undergone little change, and six have receded. Nearly all the small glaciers and low-level icefields which were seen appeared to be shrinking rapidly.

The party experienced unusually good weather for this part of Alaska which made it possible to work without interruption. In addition a very complete photographic record was made which includes both still and motion pictures in kodachrome.

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