Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features Mendenhall Glacier – a stunning glacier located about 13 miles from downtown Juneau in Southeast Alaska. Mendenhall is easily accessible and is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year.
The photograph was captured on July 28, 2023 by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. When compared to a previous image captured in 1985 by Landsat 5, scientists found that Mendenhall had retreated by about one mile.
According to NASA, thinning has also taken a toll on the glacier during the past four decades, causing it to narrow by about 2,000 feet at the bend closest to its front.
“Mendenhall Glacier started retreating in the mid-1700s following a period of glaciation that began 3,000 years ago. But in recent decades, Alaska has been warming twice as fast as the rest of the United States, helping to push the region’s glaciers into an especially steep decline,” said NASA.
“The Juneau Icefield, of which Mendenhall Glacier is a part, lost 63 out of 1,050 small glaciers inventoried between 2005 and 2019. During that same period, the icefield lost 10 percent of its glacier area.”
The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center provides excellent views of the glacier and offers interpretive programs about the natural history of the glacier. The center is a popular destination for tourists visiting Juneau.
There are several activities available for tourists including guided walks, boat tours, and even ice cave explorations. The glacier and its surroundings also offer opportunities for wildlife viewing.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory