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Chambers, F.B., 1990

Glacier-climate relationships, West Gulkana Glacier, Alaska

Bibliographic Reference

Chambers, F.B., 1990, Glacier-climate relationships, West Gulkana Glacier, Alaska: Tempe, Arizona, Arizona State University, Ph.D. dissertation, 113 p., illust., maps.


Mass balance measurements were conducted on the West Gulkana Glacier, Alaska during the summer of 1986 and spring and summer of 1987. This glacier was one of nine glaciers mapped and studied in the United States during the International Geophysical Year, 1957. The glacier was resurveyed and remapped following the control points of the original 1957 survey. This research examines relationships between climate and the long (29-year) and short term (2-year) mass balances of the glacier. Long term mass balance averages were determined by comparing contour displacement between the 1957 and 1986 maps. The 1985-86 and 1986-87 balances were ascertained by direct measurement of accumulation and ablation across the glacier surface. Climatic patterns and relationships were provided by a synoptic index and analysis of northern hemisphere charts for surface, 850mb, 700mb, and 500mb levels. Results indicate that West Gulkana Glacier is experiencing highly negative mass balances both in the long and short term. The net mass balance of the glacier appears to be strongly influenced by changing synoptic scale patterns across south-central Alaska. Warmer winter temperatures and an increase in the frequency of summer synoptic patterns conducive to higher ablation appear responsible for the noted negative balances.

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