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History of Research at Gulkana Glacier, Alaska

Oblique aerial photo of Gulkana Glacier in 1967 (click for enlargement, 176KB).
Gulkana Glacier, August 25, 1967. Photo by Austin Post, #67L3-85.  (click on image for enlargement, 176 KB.)

Measurements began on Gulkana Glacier during the early 1960's with the University of Alaska Gulkana Glacier Project (Péwé and Reger, 1983). For several years this project measured the energy budget, mass balance, meteorology, foliation, flow, and glacier bottom topography (from gravity anomalies) at Gulkana Glacier. In 1966, a continuing series of meteorological, snow and ice balance, and runoff measurements was begun by the USGS as part of the United States contribution to the International Hydrologic Decade study of mass balances on selected glaciers. Detailed results from 1966 and 1967 are reported by Meier and others (1971) and Tangborn and others (1977), respectively. Measured winter snow balances and annual balances from 1966-77 are reported by Meier and others (1980). Balance studies were relatively intensive until the mid-1970's, after which spatial sampling was reduced to three sites used as indices for mass balance. Measurements at the three remaining sites were expanded to include ice-motion and surface-altitude observations (for determining glacier-volume change) in addition to the balance, runoff, and meteorological observations already in progress.

1910-1952 photo comparison of Gulkana Glacier (click for enlargement, 117 KB).
A dramatic example of glacier retreat: top photograph shows lower Gulkana Glacier on July 1910; bottom photograph shows view from same location on July 1952. Photos by F. Moffit and T. Péwé. (click on image for enlargement, 117 KB.)

Since 1966, part of the Gulkana data set (net balance, accumulation, ablation, accumulation area ratio (AAR), and equilibrium line altitude (ELA)) has been published by the World Glacier Monitoring Service (Kasser, 1967; Muller, 1977; Haeberli, 1985; Haeberli and Müller, 1988; Haeberli and Hoelzle, 1993). Index-site glacier-surface and summer-surface altitudes, measured winter balance, and net firn and ice balance from 1975 to 1983 are reported by Mayo and Trabant (1986). Data for 1992 and 1993 were published by March and Trabant (1996 and 1997) and for 1994 by March (1998).

Interpretations of regional climate-glacier relations using the Gulkana data include papers by Fahl (1973), by Walters and Meier (1989), and by Letréguilly and Reynaud (1989).

Connections

For further information: send email here.

Maintainer: Rod March
Last update: Friday, May 20, 2011 12:30 PM
URL: http://ak.water.usgs.gov/glaciology/gulkana/history.html