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BLM-USGS Bering Glacier System Program: A Scientific Approach to Understanding a Unique Natural Environment. Authors: Presenter: John Payne John Payne Scott Guyer Chris Noyles. Outline. Background Participants Scientific Highlights Examples Summary. Bering Glacier Background.
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BLM-USGS Bering Glacier System Program: A Scientific Approach to Understanding a Unique Natural Environment Authors: Presenter: John Payne John Payne Scott Guyer Chris Noyles
Outline • Background • Participants • Scientific Highlights • Examples • Summary
Bering Glacier Background • Largest and longest glacier in continental North America (area 5,175 km2 / length 190 km) • 6% area of glacier ice in Alaska (15-20% of total ice in Alaska) • Largest surging glacier in America (last surge 1993-95) • Rapid ongoing retreat of the glacier and expansion of Vitus Lake has established new flora and fauna habitats • Post surge retreat of glacier has created a dynamic landscape of reticulated and fluted surfaces with subtidal invertebrate fossils, lake sediments, and previous overrun forests. • Given current climate change scenarios, Bering may undergo a dramatic retreat, giving a dramatically different landscape.
Bering Glacier Issues • Bering Glacier region is biologically and environmentally significant • Last 100 years have brought significant changes to human access to the glacier • Early 1900’s subsistence hunters, fisherman, trappers, and miners • WWII and Cold War brought airstrips to Cordova and Yakutat • 1960’s brought oil development • 1990’s – big game hunting and fishing • 2000 – public cabins and eco-tourism access • 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act gave mineral rights near Berg Lake to local native corporation who sold rights to Asian corporation • New land use plan under development by BLM Glennallen District for Bering Glacier • Application is pending for Bering Glacier region to become Research Natural Area
Bering Glacier Scientific Highlights • BLM investigators represent federal, state, academic, and NGO organizations • Scientific disciplines include: • Bering Glacier observations (terminus, ice movement, ablation, thickness, berg calving rate, ice depth, and sub-glacial geology) • Bering Glacier System Hydrological Studies (river flow rates, tidal actions, and rainfall) • Vegetation studies (mapping flora (species) communities surrounding glacier) • Water properties of Vitus, Berg and other Bering Glacier lakes (bathymetry, CTD DO, pH, turbidity, ORP, salinity, and total dissolved solids) • Paleontology and Paleoseismology (fossil and plant analysis in estuarine, lake and glacial outwash areas) • Geology, geomorphology, and sea level studies (moraine deposits, examination of thermokarsts, and coastal and lake sediments) • Seal population studies (count, behavior and food source) • Fish population (species, count and size) • Remote sensing (mapping) of the Bering Glacier area • Hazard modeling and mitigation • Environmental monitoring
Only 5-months lapsed between 2002 and 2003 observations, mostly spanning the winter months. Remote Sensing Analysis ofPost-surge Terminus Dynamics
A B C D E CTD Water Quality Transect Profiling
Biological Sampling • The diversity of flora and fauna in the area are representative of the highly dynamic environment • Botanical Sampling • 65 families • 175 genera • 334 species • This represents 21% of Alaskan vascular plant species • Harbor Seal Population Dynamics • Estimates show an increasing population • Current summer population is ~2,000 Arctic Lupine (Lupinus arcticus) Dwarf Firweed (Epolibium latifolium)
Bering Glacier Summary • BLM Bering field camp is a good example of leveraging resources • Logistics support covered by BLM • Invited investigators are responsible for their own salary, equipment, analysis and reporting funds • Web site (www.beringglacier.org) provides interactive collaborative environment • GIS framework insures data capture and archive capability • Remote sensing lessons learned by BLM are applicable to other sites such as North Slope and Hubbard Glacier • The Bering Glacier public/private partnership is also applicable to other areas such as the North Slope.
Concluding Remarks • Continued coordination with BLM’s resource and science programs is essential • Success and full benefit requires continuation and continuity over many years to establish trends and conditions • BLM Management support is essential for success • Need to increase public awareness of Bering Glacier program