2011 Summer Activities at Hubbard Glacier

Written by David Finnegan (CRREL), 28. August 2011

As the summer season comes to an end and the Hubbard Glacier terminus has begun its seasonal retreat, we are busy putting the finishing touches on an exciting season of activity. Hubbard advanced to within 70 m of Gilbert Point in July and showed signs of a more advanced position within Disenchantment Bay and Russell Fjord than in previous years. In terms of a closure, the advanced position of the glacier around Gilbert Point indicates that if a closure is to occur in the future the mechanism will be significantly different than previous closures (1986, 2002).

Researchers from CRREL, University of Maine, University of Kansas and the USGS Alaska Science Center have been monitoring the progress of Hubbard Glacier throughout the summer. In addition to the long-term monitoring systems activities included site visits to the glacier terminus, acquisition of high-resolution satellite imagery, seismic monitoring and on-ice GPS deployment to monitor ice seasonal ice velocities. We will continue to monitor the terminus dynamics at Gilbert Point as funding sources allow us to maintain the infrastructure as necessary.


Gilbert Point

The monitoring systems at Gilbert Point and Haenke Island have been running continuously since the fall of 2007. The laser ranging system at Gilbert Point operated flawlessly throughout the summer 2011 season until early August after the terminus began to retreat from Gilbert Point. At this point the power system began to fail and data became unreliable until ultimately the power failed completely.

Haenke Island

Haenke Island also operated well throughout the season but did sustain some damage over the season. The wind power generation system was damaged in a high wind event and was removed until repairs could be made. The air temperature sensor also suffered a failure early in the season.

Planned Maintenance

A maintenance trip is planned for the week of September 5th to repair both stations and make any necessary upgrades to bring the systems back to operational status.