Where are glaciers found in continental North America?

Glaciers exist in both the United States and Canada. Most U.S. glaciers are in Alaska; others can be found in Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Nevada (Wheeler Peak Glacier in Great Basin National Park).

Reputedly, Utah’s Timpanogos Glacier is now a rock glacier (in which the ice is hidden by rocks), and Idaho’s Otto Glacier has melted away.

Canada has glaciers in Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon Territory, and Nunavut.

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Which mountain in the conterminous U.S. has the most glaciers?

Mount Rainier, Washington, at 14,410 feet (4,393 meters), the highest peak in the Cascade Range, is a dormant volcano whose glacier ice cover exceeds that of any other mountain in the conterminous United States. Mount Rainier has approximately 26 glaciers. It contains more than five times the glacier area of all the other Cascade volcanoes...

How old is glacier ice?

The age of the oldest glacier ice in Antarctica may approach 1,000,000 years old The age of the oldest glacier ice in Greenland is more than 100,000 years old The age of the oldest Alaskan glacier ice ever recovered (from a basin between Mt. Bona and Mt. Churchill) is about 30,000 years old. Glacier flow moves newly formed ice through the entire...

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...

Is glacier ice a type of rock?

Yes – glacier ice, like granite, is a type of rock. Glacier ice is actually a mono-mineralic rock (a rock made of only one mineral, like limestone which is composed of the mineral calcite). The mineral ice is the crystalline form of water (H 2 O). It forms through the metamorphism of tens of thousands of individual snowflakes into crystals of...

Why is glacier ice blue?

Because the red (long wavelengths) part of white light is absorbed by ice and the blue (short wavelengths) light is transmitted and scattered. The longer the path light travels in ice, the more blue it appears.

How would sea level change if glaciers melted?

If all of the glacier ice on Earth were to melt, sea level would rise ~ 80 m (~ 265 ft), flooding every coastal city on the planet. If all of Earth’s temperate glaciers melted, sea level would rise ~ 0.3–0.6 m (~ 1-2 ft). If all of Greenland’s glaciers melted, sea level would rise ~ 6 m (~ 20 ft). If all of Antarctica’s glaciers melted, sea level...

What are the impacts of glacier loss, other than losing an aesthetic landscape feature?

Glaciers act as reservoirs of water that persist through summer. Continual melt from glaciers contributes water to the ecosystem throughout dry months, creating perennial stream habitat and a water source for plants and animals. The cold runoff from glaciers also affects downstream water temperatures. Many aquatic species in mountainous...

What is a Benchmark Glacier?

“ Benchmark Glacier ” refers to four North American glaciers that have been selected for long-term glacier monitoring that investigates climate, glacier geometry, glacier mass balance, glacier motion, and stream runoff. They are Gulkana Glacier and Wolverine Glacier in Alaska, South Cascade Glacier in Washington, and Sperry Glacier in Montana.

Is there a size criterion for a glacier?

While there is no global standard for what size a body of ice must be to be considered a glacier, USGS scientists in Glacier National Park use the commonly accepted guideline of 0.1 square kilometers (about 25 acres) as the minimum size of a glacier. Below this size, ice is generally stagnant and does not have enough mass to move.

What is a glacier?

A glacier is a large, perennial accumulation of crystalline ice, snow, rock, sediment, and often liquid water that originates on land and moves down slope under the influence of its own weight and gravity. Typically, glaciers exist and may even form in areas where: mean annual temperatures are close to the freezing point winter precipitation...
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Date published: May 10, 2017

Glaciers Rapidly Shrinking and Disappearing: 50 Years of Glacier Change in Montana

The warming climate has dramatically reduced the size of 39 glaciers in Montana since 1966, some by as much as 85 percent, according to data released by the U.S. Geological Survey and Portland State University.

Date published: September 28, 2016

Fifty Years of Glacier Change Research in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the longest continuous glacier research efforts in North America.

Date published: March 18, 2015

From Icefield to Ocean - What Glacier Change Might Mean for the Future of Alaska

Frozen bodies of ice cover nearly 10 percent of the state of Alaska, but the influence of glaciers on the environment, tourism, fisheries, hydropower, and other important Alaska resources is rarely discussed.

Date published: January 20, 2015

Melting Glaciers Increase the Flow of Carbon to Downstream Ecosystems

ANCHORAGE, Alaska Melting glaciers are not just impacting sea level, they are also affecting the flow of organic carbon to the world’s oceans, according to new research that provides the first ever global-scale estimates for the storage and release of organic carbon from glaciers.

Date published: December 4, 2014

Rare Insect Found Only in Glacier National Park Imperiled by Melting Glaciers

The persistence of an already rare aquatic insect, the western glacier stonefly, is being imperiled by the loss of glaciers and increased stream temperatures due to climate warming in mountain ecosystems, according to a new study released in Freshwater Science.

Date published: August 25, 2010

Washington’s Benchmark Glacier Still Shrinking

TACOMA, Wash. — Washington’s only “benchmark” glacier continues to lose mass as a result of changes in climate, according to a report by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Attribution: Land Resources
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Gilkey Glacier, Juneau Icefield, Alaska
December 31, 2017

Gilkey Glacier, Juneau Icefield, Alaska

Interactions between glaciers, bedrock, and surface debris on the Gilkey Glacier, Juneau Icefield, Alaska.

July 27, 2017

USGS Public Lecture: Warm Ice—Dynamics of Rapidly Changing Glaciers

  • Glacier Numerology – The how big, how long, how thick, how much, how often, of glacier science.
  • Glacier Photography – While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a collection of images may tell a complete forensic story.
  • Glacier Geophysics – How new technologies are being introduced to reexamine and refine decades old glacier analyses.
...
Photo flat glacier surface, Juneau Icefield, Alaska
December 31, 2016

Flat glacier surface, Juneau Icefield, Alaska

An ideal ice core site is the highest, flattest glacier in a region. In 2016, a transect of 7-9 m ice cores was drilled on the Matthes Glacier, Juneau Icefield to determine if recent fires are affecting the glacier surface. (Photo: Lucas Foglia, used with permission)

Image shows a satellite view of Glacier Bay National Park
September 14, 2016

Landsat View of Glacier Bay

A view of Glacier Bay National Park, taken on September 13, 2015. Credit: USGS/NASA Landsat Program.

Glacier National Park
June 5, 2016

Glacier Bay National Park

View of Glacier Bay National Park from the air.

Alaska Topographic Map Contours on Glacier
April 25, 2016

Alaska Map with Contours on Glacier

Alaska US Topo map sample image of contours over Chedotlothna Glacier in Denali National Park and Preserve.

Mapping the glacier's edge in Glacier National Park.
April 5, 2016

Mapping the glacier's edge in Glacier National Park.

Mapping the glacier's edge in Glacier National Park.

Monitoring glaciers in Glacier National Park.
April 5, 2016

Monitoring glaciers in Glacier National Park.

Monitoring glaciers in Glacier National Park.

Image: Alaskan Glacier
June 1, 2005

Alaskan Glacier

Near Seward, 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.