American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Juneau Ice Field Research Project, 1953

  • Notes
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1954


The American Geographical Society administered another season of scientific study in 1953 on the Juneau Ice Field, southeastern Alaska, with contractual support given by the Office of Naval Research and the Departments of the Army and Air Force. First reconnoitered in 1948, the ice field has been used for glaciological and related research in successive summer seasons and during January—February, 1951. The project is a part of the Society’s Glacier Study Program which has carried on investigations in Patagonia, in the Canadian Rockies, and elsewhere in coastal Alaska.

The 1953 party formulated its plan of study as a continuation of research carried through earlier seasons. Objectives were to accumulate additional facts concerning the behavior of Taku Glacier and related glaciers at the present time as well as during the past; to investigate further the nature of the ice field, such as its geobotany; to record the weather conditions at the research station (upper Taku Glacier) for a fifth season; to extend the triangulation survey to the western sector of the field; and to begin glacio-meteorological studies on neighboring Lemon Creek Glacier which would be used for comparison with similar studies made on glaciers elsewhere in the world.

An eight-man team executed the above program during an 88-day field season extending from June to September.* Dr. Lawrence E. Nielsen of Springfield, Massachusetts, was leader of the field party. This included a meteorologist, plant ecologist, aerial photo interpreter, radio man, surveyor, mechanic, and camp manager. Later in the season, Maynard M. Miller led a party of four men to the upper Taku Glacier for additional field work. It is of interest that since the inception of the Juneau Ice Field Research Project in 1948, a total of 23 members of the American Alpine Club have taken part in the field work.

The 1953 season brought to a close a five-year concentrated study on Taku Glacier by the Project while at the same time it inaugurated the glacio-meteorological research on Lemon Creek Glacier. Taku Glacier will not be neglected entirely in the future. Periodic observations such as snow surveys and the photography of the trimlines and terminal areas will be continued. Emphasis has been shifted to Lemon Creek Glacier because of certain of its attributes. The glacier is easily delineated areally, is readily accessible on foot from Juneau, requires half the number of personnel in the study team, and because of its small size, can be investigated in its entirety. According to current plans, it is anticipated that Lemon Creek Glacier will be used as one of the representative glaciers of the coordinated studies to be undertaken during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) 1957–1958.

Calvin J. Heusser

Project Officer

Juneau Ice Field Research Project

*More detailed reports by: Nielsen, Lawrence E., and others, may be found in Progress Report Juneau Ice Field Research Project, Alaska, 1953, American Geographical Society, New York.

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