With an area of about 5,175 km2 and a length of nearly 190 km, the Bering Glacier, located on the southeast coast of Alaska, is the largest and longest glacier in continental North America. It is also the largest temperate, surging glacier in the world. You can learn more about surging glaciers here. More information on the Bering Glacier can be found at BeringGlacier.org.
The Bering Glacier, animated!
There has been a lot of news the past two days about Google's new Landsat Timelapse Viewer. We decided to take a look at the Bering Glacier through Landsat's eyes from 1984 to 2012. During that period, you can see the two most recent surge events of the glacier! See it here. Enjoy!
New Ablatometers Installed at Bering Glacier
MTRI scientists returned to the Glacier on June 16, 2012 to install six new Glacier Ablation Sensor System (GASS) units on the ice. The new hardware is our best yet and each unit is equipped with an Iridium modem, capable of transmitting meteorological, ablation and position measurements back to MTRI in real time. The 2012 expedition was funded in part by a generous grant from Eddie Bauer, awarded through the Explorers Club. MTRI engineer Chris Roussi won the grant and will be writing a few articles about our expedition for Eddier Bauer's Born Out There weblog.

Foul weather is typical at Bering, and this year was no exception. Wind and rain were constant during the two days our team spent at Bering Camp this year. A low ceiling and the significantly fragmented ice sheet from last year's surge made it difficult to fly to the glacier and deploy sensors. Unfortunately, not all six sites could be deployed, but four sensors were successfully deployed in the most important locations on the ice. Look for their real-time weather and ablation observations on this website soon!
B01 and B02 Ceased Transmissions
Over the last two weeks, B01 and B02 have apparently stopped transmitting data. B01's last data package uploaded to our server came in August 21; B02's last was August 27. It seems likely now that no more transmissions will follow from either site. In the case of B01, the reason that data transmissions have stopped is likely that the instrumentation fell into the crevasse so near it. This is an unavoidable hazard of glacier research! In the case of B02, it isn't yet clear what went wrong. The problem isn't related to battery voltage. It may be that B02 has fallen into a newly-opened crevasse.
Latest from Bering Glacier Field Trip 2011
MTRI scientists and engineers recently returned from the July excursion to the Bering Glacier. A major objective of the trip was to service the Glacier Ablation Sensor System (GASS), which monitors melt on the Bering at 6 different sites (B01, B02, B03, B04, B06, and T01). After several weeks of melt, these instruments were hanging 4 to 5 meters in the air! At that height, ablation measurements are less accurate. Our field team lowered the instruments on the poles after measuring the height of the instruments. Check out recent photos of B01 (near the terminus) and B02 (up glacier, near the Grindle Hills).

Sites B06, B04, and T01, which do not transmit data in real time, were successfully serviced and their data downloaded. Unfortunately, site B03 could not be serviced nor its data recovered because it was in the middle of a meltwater pond (photo). BLM employees might have been able to recover this instrument after we left, provided the pond drained.

Site B01 was able to be serviced but due to its proximity to a crevasse it will likely not be accessible again; it is likely not recoverable. Fortunately, B01 will continue to transmit its data in real-time until something happens to prevent it from doing so! Site B02 was outfitted with a horizontal-axis wind power generator which we hope will keep it running through (most of) the winter, when solar power is not as reliable.

After some updates to the website, real-time data from B01 and B02, still being transmitted, are available once again. Look for data from the non-transmitting sites B04, B06 and T01 to be available for download soon.
MTRI Scientists Revisit the Bering Glacier
MTRI scientists are currently at the Bering Glacier making annual observations. Most importantly, the GASS units are being serviced. Throughout the summer, the top surface of the glacier recedes from the GASS sensors as it melts. By mid-July, the GASS units are so far from the surface that ablation measurements are less accurate. Consequently, you will see some errors in the real-time presentation of data from B01 and B02. Please excuse the mess! Updates are planned in the near future. When we return from the field, website content will be updated to accomodate the changes. Also, the data thus far from the non-reporting stations B03, B04, B06, and T01 will also be made available (these stations do not report in real-time).
© 2012 Michigan Tech Research Institute
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