Focus on:Glaciers

           glaciers

     they are rivers of ice
            from mountains they flow
       toward waiting waters
 unhurried and slow
   the quiet of morning
        disturbed when is heard
        the groan as the glacier
  calves off an iceberg
 which floats away in
    waters of aquamarine
   the wonders of nature
delights unforeseen
– pc 2012

In addition to the majesty of the Alaskan Mountains are the glaciers, rivers of frozen ice which form because the accumulation of snow each year exceeds the snowmelt.  As the snow accumulates, it compacts the layers below it into solid ice. On our visit to Alaska we saw two glaciers, the South Sawyer glacier in the Tracy Arm fjord and the Mendenhall Glacier.  Both of these glaciers are part of the Juneau Icefield, which covers 1,500 square miles.  In fact, the largest glaciers in the world, outside of the Antarctic and Greenland icecaps,  are located in Alaska.

Sadly, current climatic conditions are causing the glaciers to recede at an alarming rate and possibly at some future date will be a memory preserved in pictures taken by those of us lucky enough to see them before their time runs out.

But, as always, mother nature has a plan .  When the glaciers retreat, bare rock is uncovered and eventually moss takes root, soil accumulates followed by plants and trees.  These add to the organic composition of the soil and are eventually replaced by other species of plants and trees.  The new forest becomes a habitat for additional plant and animal species to enjoy.(This process takes about 350 years)

In the meantime, the glaciers are still there, glistening blue in the morning sun.(They are blue because glacial ice absorbs all the colors of visible light except blue, which it transmits.)  Here are some photos to enjoy.

Facts about the glaciers obtained from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center and  Mendenhall Glacier Flowing Through Time by Katherine Hocker.

South Sawyer Glacier

icebergs precede our arrival at the glacier. Most of these are too small to really qualify as icebergs. An iceberg must be at least 14 feet long to qualify.

Another view : South Sawyer Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier and Lake

ice dropping off the glacial face is plentiful in the waters  around it

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