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Glaciers & Icebergs


Southeast Alaska - Glaciers & Icebergs

LeConte Glacier from the air. The southern most tidewater glacier in the Northern Hemisphere.

Imagine a beautiful, blue-sky morning floating amongst ice bergs at the face of a mile-wide glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord. We wait patiently for a house-size chunk to break from the face. Just as you hear a huge crack, like the sound of cannon fire echoing through the fjord, a spire of ice falls into the water sending a splash 200 feet into the air.

Simply put, glaciers occur when snow accumulation is greater than the melt. Snowflakes are transformed to granular ice crystals in the summer months. These crystals meld with others to form dense glacial ice, one layer for each year. Glacial ice appears blue due to the physical characteristics of water molecules which absorb all colors except blue which is reflected.

Think of glaciers as rivers of ice. As layers of ice accumulate at the top of a mountain, the pressure increases and they start to move downhill. Glaciers follow the path of least resistance, occupying stream valleys. Towards the terminus of the glacier more ice is lost than accumulates so the glacier forms great folds and deep cracks, like rapids in a river. The upper 100 feet of a glaciers depth is brittle and deep cracks called crevasses form on the surface. Below that, the ice is more solid and the pressure greater, creating a more intense blue color.

Some of our itineraries can include a visit to Tracy Arm Fjord, home of the twin Sawyer Glaciers. For a birds-eye view of the ice fields and glaciers, try our optional flight-seeing tours.

New icebergs in the making! LeConte Glacier calving.

"Trip # 3 on the Alaskan Adventurer for our family-the same beautiful scenery-and great fishing, but many new exciting activities-like kayaking up close with whales and walking on a glacier! It was everything we remembered and more."

Roberta, Marty, Danielle & Martini
Coral Gable, FL

Morning light and mist on an iceberg.

 

 

 

Copyright 2012 Island Voyages, Inc. and Natures-Spirit Photography, reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is strictly prohibited and a violation of law. Alaska Sea Adventures operates under Special Use Permit from the USDA Forest Service, Tongass National Forest.