Phenomena

Columbia Glacier’s Retreat

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In southeastern Alaska, the Columbia Glacier once stretched as far as Heather Island in Prince William Sound. After a long period of stability, the glacier began retreating in 1980 and currently sits more than 15 miles from its previous extent. This video explores the glacier’s evolution through false-color satellite imagery, which allows researchers to distinguish the glacier from sea ice, open water, exposed rocks, and nearby vegetation. Though rapid overall, the glacier’s retreat takes place in fits and starts, due to a combination of influences including climate change, sea and ice interactions, and the effects of local topography. (Video and image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

False-color animation showing the retreat of Alaska's Columbia Glacier since 1980.
False-color animation showing the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier since 1980.
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