ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Yakutat Glacier, near the Alaska town of the same name and flowing from the mountains near the Canada border, calves into a lake as deep as an ocean bay. The icefield that feeds Yakutat is large enough to cover the five boroughs of New York City. Despite its bulk, the glacier is doomed unless we experience a drastic change in climate.
Barbara Truessel has been on deathwatch for this interesting glacier for the past few years. The graduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute has witnessed Yakutat’s fade in the short time it takes to earn a college degree.
“It’s dramatically falling apart,” Truessel said.
Truessel and her advisor, Martin Truffer, along with glaciologists Chris Larsen and Roman Motyka, recently witnessed the fragmenting of the glacier’s massive tongue, which coats part of Harlequin Lake.
“The breakup of the floating tongue started last year,” Truessel said. “Huge tabular icebergs were floating away from the glacier. We were just lucky to be there to see that.”