Malaspina Glacier in southeastern Alaska  •

Malaspina Glacier in southeastern Alaska 

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the Malaspina Glacier in southeastern Alaska. With a size of approximately 1,680 square miles, Malaspina is the world’s largest piedmont glacier. It covers an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. 

“To human eyes, glacial ice typically looks white tinged with blue. But in this false-color satellite image, the rippled ice of Alaska’s Malaspina Glacier appears more fiery than frosty,” said NASA.

“In this configuration, watery features are displayed in reds, oranges, and yellows; vegetation appears green; and rock is shown in shades of blue.”

A piedmont glacier forms when steep valley glaciers spill into flat plains, where they spread out into bulbous, lobate shapes. Malaspina is fed by the Seward Ice Field and other smaller glaciers. 

Despite its size, it’s relatively thin for a glacier of its magnitude, averaging only about 600 meters (2,000 feet) in thickness.

The Malaspina Glacier is a classic example of a glacier experiencing significant retreat and thinning due to climate change. This has raised concerns about its long-term stability and the broader implications for sea-level rise. 

The glacier’s meltwater contributes to the Gulf of Alaska, and its changes are closely monitored by scientists.

Most of the Malaspina Glacier is located within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Its visually striking nature, including crevasses and moraines, makes it a subject of interest not only for scientists but also for photographers and nature enthusiasts. 

The image was captured on October 27, 2023 by the OLI-2 (Operational Land Imager-2) on Landsat 9. 

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

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