Beached Berg in Alaska

Each year since 2009,

geophysicist and
pilot Chris Larsen has led two sets of
flights to monitor Alaska’s mountain glaciers. From the air, scientists like
Larsen collect critical information on how the region’s snow and ice is
changing. They also are in a good position to snap photographs of the stunning
landscape. Larsen was flying with NASA science writer Maria-Jose Viñas on
board. During a flight on August 19, 2018, Viñas shot this photograph during a
mission to survey Yakutat Icefield and nearby glaciers in southeast Alaska.


The beach and stream in the photograph are in Russel Fjord near the terminus of
the Hubbard Glacier. While this photograph does not show any glaciers, evidence
of their presence is all around. Meltwater winds down a vegetation-free path of
glacial till. On its way toward open water, the stream cuts through a beach
strewn with icebergs.

“The Hubbard Glacier has a broad and active calving front providing a generous
supply of icebergs,” said Larsen, a researcher at the University of Alaska,
Fairbanks. “They are present all summer since new ones keep coming from the

NASA’s Operation IceBridge makes lengthy flights each year over the landmasses
of Greenland and Antarctica and their surrounding sea ice. While
IceBridge-Alaska flights are shorter in length, the terrain is equally majestic
and its snow and ice important to monitor. Wherever IceBridge flights are made,
data collection depends in part on weather and instruments.

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