How many glaciers currently exist in Alaska?

Based on the most recent comprehensive survey in 2011, there were about 27,000 glaciers in Alaska. However, the number of glaciers is a misleading statistic. Scientists are more interested in total glacial land coverage as a measure. The number of glaciers is less important since large ones can split up into several as they retreat. The amount of area glaciers occupy in Alaska is trending downward. 

Roughly a third of Alaska’s glaciers have been given official names that can be found in the online Geographic Names Information System.  

Learn more: USGS Water Science School - Glaciers: Things to Know 

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Image: Coxe Glacier
August 20, 2008

Coxe Glacier

Coxe Glacier, Barry Arm, western Prince William Sound.

Image: Barry Glacier
August 20, 2008

Barry Glacier

Barry Glacier, Barry Arm, western Prince William Sound.

August 6, 2005

Bear Glacier

Oblique aerial photograph that shows the terminus of Bear Glacier, Kenai Mountains, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

Tidewater glaciers of south-central Alaska
November 30, 2000

Tidewater glaciers of south-central Alaska

Present-day tidewater glaciers of south-central Alaska can be found in Prince William Sound and southern Kenai Peninsula. Icebergs form as portions of the glacier terminus collapses. Modern tidewater glaciers in Alaska are very small in comparison with massive glaciers that reached the sea during full glacial time.