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Unlike many glaciers in Alaska and around the world, Hubbard Glacier is thickening and advancing. Hubbard Glacier has a large accumulation area, like a river with a large watershed. This large area of snow in the mountains upstream either melts or flows down to the end of the glacier, and Hubbard steadily grows. In fact, Hubbard Glacier has advanced 1.5 miles, or about 2.4 kilometers, since 1895.

These Landsat images illustrate an unusual event that was observed twice at the terminus of Hubbard Glacier. Hubbard temporarily blocked Russell Fjord (a long, narrow inlet of the sea) from the rest of Disenchantment Bay and the Gulf of Alaska. It’s even possible that the glacier could one day permanently block the fjord.

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Aug. 7, 1985, Landsat 5 (path/row 62/18) — Hubbard Glacier, Alaska, USA
Sept. 11, 1986, Landsat 5 (path/row 62/18) — Fjord blocked by Hubbard Glacier, Alaska, USA

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References

Daly, S.F., Vuyovich, C., and Finnegan, D., 2011, Situk River Hydrology Following Closure of Russell Fiord by Hubbard Glacier: ERDC-CRREL Tech. Rep. ADA53802, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, NH, 62p.

Eliot, J.L., and Johns, C., 1987, Glaciers on the Move: National Geographic Magazine, v. 171, no. 1, p. 106–119.

Hansen, K., 2015, The Advance of Hubbard Glacier: NASA Earth Observatory, accessed February 18, 2016, at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=85900.

Stearns, L.A., Hamilton, G.S., van der Veen, C.J., Finnegan, D.C., O’Neel, S., Scheick, J.B., and Lawson, D.E., 2015, Glaciological and marine geological controls on terminus dynamics of Hubbard Glacier, southeast Alaska: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 120, no. 6, p. 1065–1081. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014JF003341/full

Walker, K., and Zenone, C., 1988, Multitemporal Landsat Multispectral Scanner and Thematic Mapper Data of the Hubbard Glacier Region, Southeast Alaska: Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, v. 54, no. 3, p. 373–376. 

USGS, [n.d.], Hubbard Glacier, Alaska: USGS Glaciers and Climate Project, accessed April 19, 2018, at https://www2.usgs.gov/climate_landuse/clu_rd/glacierstudies/hubbard.asp.

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