The glaciers are shrinking, melting, retreating...that is clear. They are still pretty big when you look at it from the perspective of a random human clinging to a rock that's spinning through space at a speed of 1000 mph. But if you're the planet, they're getting pretty small. Here is one beautiful example of what we stand to lose in the coming decades.
Here is another one. The glacier is big, but those bare rocks in between the base and the top remind us that we would have taken a very different picture here just a decade ago.
That's right, a decade ago. The tour boat driver, who was younger than I, said that when he started doing this, the boat couldn't get this close because the ice extended beyond the edge of the mountain and into the sea. The gray silt seen in the right of this picture is the glacial deposit. 10 years ago, this whole slope and several miles of the sea were all ice in the summer.
All that area...was glacier just 10 years ago. Don't tell people in Alaska the world isn't changing. It's changing before their eyes.
Glacier ice is an intense teal blue. This is because glacial ice is actually compressed by the massive weight of the glacier itself density change causes a change in the refraction of light. Blue light is scattered more.
Glacier are not just snow. Because they move, there can be dirt, silt, and rocks mixed in the lower levels.
Here's a cross section of the glacier on zoom.
When the glacier calves (that's when pieces fall into the water), car or house size pieces are falling into the water. How often does this happen? Several times an hour it seems. The tour operators know they can bring people out here and put the engine to idle and will be almost guaranteed a calving event in the 15-20 minutes they are here.
In addition to the calving, there is the melting. Streams flow out of the glaciers constantly.
This looks to me more like a scene from Lord of the Rings and filmed in New Zealand. Alaska has its green mountains as well.
One of my favorite spots in Canada, it the area by the Angel Glacier, on Mount Edith Cavell, in Jasper National Park. The Angel Glacier is very small compared to this one. But there is something otherworldly about the glaciers. Perhaps its just they are one of the few things left on that are a bit mysterious to us still. Sure the science is there, but unlike Caribbean beaches, less people come and see these natural beauties. That's probably a good thing for the glaciers. Or any ecosystem actually.
I like how there are so many unique shapes within the ice.
These spires reminded me of hoodoos in the badlands of the Midwest.
And this one I can't quite place but somewhere in the depths of my brain I am thinking it's a scene from an early 80's movie...maybe Labyrinth with David Bowie? I am not sure. It's very ice castle like.
The contrast of the landscape was very striking. Ocean. Glacier. Greenery. Ancient Rock. Snow. Pretty cool to see it all in one frame.
...we were happy to be able to see it for ourselves! I hope to go back a few more times too!