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Hoskins, M.H., 2006

Modeling glaciers in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska

Bibliographic Reference

Hoskins, M.H., 2006, Modeling glaciers in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska: University of Wyoming, Laramie, M.S. thesis, 64 p., illust. (some color), maps (color).


Alaskan alpine glaciers are more sensitive to climate warming than glaciers in other parts of the world. A cellular automata model that integrates topography from a digital elevation model and regional climate data to simulate glaciers was utilized in this study to create numerical simulations of two glaciers of the coastal Chugach Mountains in Alaska. This model is unique in its ability to simulate glacier growth and ice movement under a given climate on a mountain range scale. In this study the model was calibrated to the Chugach Mountains using digital topography and estimated climate for the region around Bench Glacier, a small glacier of the region approximately 55 km north of Cordova, AK. This calibration scenario was applied to numerical simulations of Columbia Glacier, in the Chugach Mountains approximately 30 km west of Valdez, AK. Glacier simulations under constant climate estimated to be representative of the current climate state for the region revealed that the Columbia Glacier would recede by 30% of its current length when equilibrium was reached. These results indicate glaciers larger than Bench Glacier in the Chugach Mountains are out of balance with current climate conditions and will continue observed retreat until they reach equilibrium. Columbia Glacier, close to 7 times longer than Bench Glacier, is out of equilibrium and will retreat 12 km before it is in balance with the present climate.

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