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Project ID: 2006AK46B

Title: Glacier Volume Change in Arctic Alaska and its Impact on Alaska's Hydrologic Cycle

Project Type: Research

Start Date: 03/01/2006

End Date: 02/28/2009

Congressional District: AK

Focus Categories: Hydrology, Climatological Processes, Surface Water

Keywords: glaciers, volume change, freshwater, arctic

Principal Investigator: Nolan, Matthew A.

Federal Funds: $19,391

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $6,936

Abstract: The study will focus on the role of glacier volume change in the freshwater hydrological cycle in Alaska. Glaciers are huge reservoirs of freshwater within our state. Recent studies have shown that most Alaskan glaciers are retreating significantly and adding substantial amounts of freshwater into the local hydrological systems, and are contributing more to sea level rise than the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets. Sea level rise is of major concern to all Alaskans as it leads to increased coastal erosion, and a freshening of ocean salt water leads to significant changes in ocean currents and global weather. The changing amount of ice cover and albedo also feeds back into local weather system, which again affects regional weather. This project will explore the extent of volume change throughout Alaska with particular emphasis on small glaciers, which have previously been overlooked. Though their reservoirs are smaller individually, small glaciers are much more numerous than the bigger ones and are likely losing mass just as fast as the larger ones, so their impact on time-scales of the next 20 years may be just as strong if not stronger than large glaciers, especially for those draining into the Arctic Ocean.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Maintained by: John Schefter
Last Updated: Friday, December 07, 2007
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