Effect of Tributary Glacier Surge on Tidewater Terminus Stability: College Fjord, Prince William Sound, Alaska

Head shot of Jacob Hassan

Name: Jacob Hassan
Major: Environmental Geoscience
Minor: Computer Science
Advisors: Vibhor Agarwal, Gregory Wiles; Mark Wilson (second reader)

With the rise of global climate change, there is an ever-increasing amount of unusual behavior in many of the world’s icefields. By 2100, it is estimated that two thirds of all glaciers will have disappeared, leaving research inaccessible. Additionally, the freshwater input derived from glacier loss will disrupt ecosystems and habitats as well as global albedo levels and cause many coastal cities to flood beyond repair. Thus, it is crucial to understand as much as possible about these temperamental formations while they are still present.

The Harvard and Yale Glaciers represent an inverse relationship to each other which grants a key outlook on tidewater glacier dynamics. Over a period of 64 years (1945-2012), Harvard Glacier advanced 28 observable times while Yale Glacier retreated 20 times. With two glaciers in similar climatic, geometric, and hydrothermal forcings, other factors must be considered to better determine the cause(s) of their behavioral differences. To examine the drivers of this relationship, a geospatial analysis was performed using current velocity, thickness, and elevation change data, determining the relationships between each and granting an outlook on overall tidewater glacier behavior from 1985-2018. The results indicated evidence of Alaskan-type surge occurring in Harvard Glacier, as well as in Harvard’s leading tributary, Radcliffe Glacier. Furthermore, there was a positive correlation in the frequency of surges within Harvard and Radcliffe, indicating that Harvard may be highly influenced by increased mass deposition coming from Radcliffe within 1-2 years of increased velocity. These findings highlight the need for further study in the area, with the addition of in-situ data to better determine the causes associated.

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 13, 2023.

2 responses to “Effect of Tributary Glacier Surge on Tidewater Terminus Stability: College Fjord, Prince William Sound, Alaska”

  1. Shelley Judge says:

    Good job, Jacob. Merging your computer science background with your GIS knowledge made for a very interesting I.S. project.

  2. Vibhor Agarwal says:

    Good job Jacob on integrating your knowledge of GIS, Remote Sensing, and computer science to come up with an amazing IS. Best wishes for your career.