Notes on Glacial Recession
The Rate of Recession (1896, Muir Glacier)
by: Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore
Rain weathers and breaks away the ice most rapidly,
and during a close watch maintained by the writer in July and August, 1891,
it did not seem that the stages of the tide had any connection with the
fall of the ice. On many warm, clear days, when a hot sun fell upon the
ice front for 16 to 18 hours continuously, there was no sound. After days
of silence came tremendous displays, one quarter and one third of the long
wall falling away at once. These falls often occurred in the colder hours
seeming to free most bergs. By photographic evidence the glacier moved
more than 1,000 yards between Prof. Wright's visit of 1886 and Prof.
Reid's first camp in 1890. Photographs taken by the writer in 1891 showed
a retreat of 300 yards in the next year. Prof. Muir reconized a retreat
of a mile between his visits of 1880 and 1890, and the writer was as much
bewildered by the marked changes occurring between 1883 and 1890. In 1894
the fron line had advanced nearly to the line of 1890.
Scource: Scidmore, Eliza Ruhamah. Appleton's Guide-Book to Alaska.
D. Appleton and Company, 1896, 104
The Trip of 1890 (Glacier Bay, Alaska)
by: John Muir
It was here that I camped in 1880, a point at that time
less than half a mile from the front of the glacier, now one and a half
Scource: Muir, John. Travels in Alaska Boston & New York:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1915, 1998, 229
The Trip of 1879
The Discovery of Glacier Bay
By: John Muir
Glacier Bay is undoubtedly young yet. Vancouver's chart,
made only a century ago, shows no trace of it, though found admirably
faithful in general. It seems probable, therfore, that even then the entire
bay was occupied by a glacier of which all those described above, great
though they are, were only tributaries. Nearly as grreat a change has taken
place in Sum Dum Bay since Vancouver's visit, the main trunk glacier there
having receded from eighteen to twenty - five miles from the line marked
on his chart.
Note: George Vancouver charted this area in his 1793 Expedition
Source: Muir, John. Travels In Alaska. Boston & New York: Houghton
Mifflin Company, 1915, 1998, 159
Hubbard Glacier (Alaska) Expands
The summer of 2002 saw Hubbard Glacier expanding.
Pushing a gravel moraine toward Gilbert Point closing off Russell
Fjord by July. This then formed a dam, creating a fresh water lake (from
melted snow). The water broke through the ice on August 14, 2002.
Thereby draining the lake.
Scientists claim that it is only a matter of time until
the fiord becomes completely blocked again. It is reported, at which point
the fresh water lake will build up, and spill into the Situk River containing
major salmon and steel head fisheries creating a localized commercial disaster.
source: Alaska Magazine "Glacier Seals Off Fjord",
Anchorage Alaska, Morris Communications, Publisher William S, Morris III,
Novermber 2002 issue, p 12
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