Frequently Asked Questions about Tidewater Glaciers
What is a tidewater glacier?
A tidewater glacier is a mass of snow and ice that forms on land but terminates in the ocean. It's unique from a mountain or hanging glacier for this reason.
Why does a tidewater glacier calve?
Glaciers are always changing.Tidewater glaciers terminate abruptly at the ocean, and gravity forces undermine the fronts of ice, causing chunks to fall off. Icebergs are floating chunks of ice that calve off the terminus of a glacier. This adds fresh water and nutrients to the cold sea water and helps produce an incredibly productive ecosystem. Some calving can produce chunks up to 200 feet high.
Which tidewater glaciers are located in Kenai Fjords National Park?
There are 38 glaciers flowing from the Harding Icefield, five of which reach tidewater. Three of them, the Northwestern, Holgate and Aialik, can be seen with Kenai Fjords Tours.
Are these tidewater glaciers receding?
The Northwestern Fjord has been steadily receding for over a century. As it does so, it reveals previously un-seen landscapes, including islands in Northwestern Fjord. Meanwhile, the Holgate Glacier is actually advancing. The Aialik glacier is considered to be 'stable'.
When is the best time to see calving glaciers?
The warm sun of late spring and early summer bring constant shifts to the glaciers of Kenai Fjords. Calving can happen at any point, but researchers say these glacier are most active in May and June.