Of Alaska’s several thousand valley glaciers, fewer than 20 are advancing, according to a major study released last week in California.
Most of the others are retreating.
During the 20th century, most Alaskan glaciers receded and, in some areas, disappeared, although the study didn’t say whether or not these changes were due to human activity.
During the 1790s, when European explorers first sailed in the vicinity of Alaska’s Glacier Bay, they noted only a small bay in the coastline. A large glacier filled much of the basin of Glacier Bay.
However, by the 1880s, continued glacier retreat resulted in a bay that extended nearly 40 miles.
Today, Glacier Bay extends more than 60 miles.
The study was the result of an international research effort by more than 60 scientists from 25 nations who are trying to gather information about glacier change from a global perspective.