An analysis of climatic forcings on glacial movement: Quantitative correlation of Alaskan climatic patterns and Mendenhall Glacier interannual glacial health trends

Authors: Hailey Marie Cantrell*, Western Michigan University
Topics: Cryosphere, Climatology and Meteorology, Polar Regions
Keywords: Climate change, glaciers, Alaska, glacial retreat
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 39
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Glacial health in Alaska, USA is demonstrating an interannual declining trend. Negative glacial health is a disproportionate ratio of glacier retreat to glacier growth over a series of years, in this study measured at the end of summer melt periods. Historical photographic evidence of Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska, when compared to contemporary imagery, undoubtedly exhibits a consistent pattern of interannual glacial retreat. Study of climatic forcings driving this pattern of glacial movement is relevant and crucial for better understanding of future glacial behavior attributed to anthropogenically-driven climate change. This study is designed to quantitatively evaluate a correlation between changes in Alaskan climatic patterns and an interannual trend of declining glacial health for Mendenhall Glacier by combining analysis of historical glacier face photography, Landsat imagery, and Alaskan climatological data. Glacier face ground photography is expected to demonstrate vertical volume change and fa├žade retreat in relation to flanking rocks. Aerial Landsat imagery is projected to depict an interannual decrease in glacial volume and an interannual spatial pattern of glacial retreat. The research is expected to demonstrate a consistent increase in annual Mendenhall Glacier retreat strongly correlated with a dramatic shift in Alaskan climatology in the 1980s. A long-term negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation is expected to be observed, contributing to warmer temperatures and an increase in melt potential.

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