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Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

Photo of Hubbard Glacier during the Russell Fiord closure of 1986 (Click to see enlargement, 82 KB).
Photo by R. March, USGS, June 13, 1986, during 1986 Russell Fiord closure.

Program Overview/Why Study Hubbard Glacier?

Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier on the North American continent. It has been thickening and advancing toward the Gulf of Alaska since it was first mapped by the International Boundary Commission in 1895 (Davidson, 1903). This is in stark contrast  with most glaciers, which have thinned and retreated during  the last century.  This atypical behavior is an important example of the calving glacier cycle in which glacier advance and retreat is controlled more by the mechanics of terminus calving than by climate fluctuations. If Hubbard Glacier continues to advance, it will close the seaward entrance of Russell Fiord and create the largest glacier-dammed lake on the North American continent in historic times. 


Photo of Hubbard Glacier near closure of Russell Fiord, June 20, 2002 (click on image for enlargement, 80 KB).
Photo by US Forest Service Yakutat Ranger District, June 20, 2002, during the current near Russell Fiord closure.

2002 Russell Fiord Closure Updates

8/20/02 - for a brief description of the 2002 closure, lake rise, and outburst with a photo series, click here.

8/16/2002 - Second-Largest Glacial Flood Worldwide in Historic Times Occurs as Russell Lake Glacier Dam Ruptures - USGS News Release

6/25/2002 - Although, the physical closure of Russell Fiord is incomplete, fresh water from rain, glacier melt, and runoff is entering the fiord faster than it can flow out through the narrow channel between Hubbard Glacier and the land to the southwest of the terminus. Therefore, Russell Fiord is now technically a lake a little above sea level and connected to the sea by a very short river. The rising level of Russell Lake is being recorded by a stage recorder installed on June 23, 2002 at Marble Point in Russell Lake (about 4.5 miles south east from the near-closure site). Real-time data from the gage is available at USGS station #15130000. At the time of installation, the water level was already above sea level and rising by about foot per day.

6/18/2002 - Advancing Glacier Coming Close to Blocking Fiord Near Yakutat, Alaska,
    USGS News Release (photos available)


Data

Real-time water level in Russell Lake for the last 31 days, USGS station #15130000 (values every 15 minutes)

Recent daily water level in Russell Lake, USGS station #15130000 (daily values for the most recent 18 months available) - shows the 2002 lake rise and outburst.

A summary of recent measurements of the growth and advance of Hubbard Glacier was presented at an International Glaciological Society symposium on Fast Glacier Flow held in Yakutat, Alaska, June 10-14, 2002. [abstract and poster]

Where is it?  Maps

Photos

2002 Russell Fiord Closure and Russell Lake Outburst Photo Series (most recent photos are August 15, 2002)

Google Earth View - If you have Google Earth installed, load view of Hubbard Glacier here)

Reports  

Links

CRREL Hubbard Glacier Research & Monitoring

Tongass National Forest - Hubbard Glacier

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve - Hubbard Glacier page

USGS Earthshots: Satellite Images of Environmental Change: Hubbard Glacier, Alaska 1985, 1986

 

Maintainer: Rod March
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Last update: Monday, December 27, 2010 05:07 PM
URL: http://ak.water.usgs.gov/glaciology/hubbard/index.htm