|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 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.
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 ½ foot per day.
Advancing Glacier Coming Close to Blocking Fiord Near Yakutat, Alaska,
USGS News Release (photos available)
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]
2002 Russell Fiord Closure and Russell Lake Outburst
Photo Series (most recent photos are
August 15, 2002)
Google Earth View - If you have
installed, load view of Hubbard Glacier
CRREL Hubbard Glacier
Research & Monitoring
Tongass National Forest
- Hubbard Glacier
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve - Hubbard Glacier page
Earthshots: Satellite Images of Environmental Change: Hubbard Glacier, Alaska 1985,