Bering Glacier may be in retreat
Article first published online: 29 DEC 2012
©1991. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume 72, Issue 43, pages 466–467, 22 October 1991
How to Cite
1991), Bering Glacier may be in retreat, Eos Trans. AGU, 72(43), 466–467, doi:10.1029/EO072i043p00466.(
- Issue published online: 29 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 29 DEC 2012
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The Bering Glacier, the largest (6000 km2) and longest (200 km) glacier in North America, may be undergoing a stage of irreversible calving retreat, said Bruce Molnia of the U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Va. The situation there today appears to be a rapid breaking apart of blocks of ice (icebergs). The retreat has resulted in the formation of Vitus Lake (Figure 1), a large freshwater, icemarginal lake, which may evolve into a saltwater bay or fiord system, said Molnia, the spokesperson for a USGS research group that includes Austin Post, Dennis C. Trabant, and James W. Schoonmaker.
Unlike most glaciers that lose ice through melting, calving glaciers like Bering end in bodies of water, such as lakes, and lose icebergs from their termini or margins through fracturing or fragmentation. The icebergs, influenced by surface currents and wind, then drift away. During the past 80 years, retreat of the Bering Glacier has resulted in much of its terminus becoming an iceberg calving margin.