McBride Glacier, Muir Inlet

McBride Glacier, Muir Inlet

by | Mar 19, 2021

McBride Glacier starts on the south slope of the Takhinsha Mountains in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and flows south for 8.4 miles (13.5 km) to McBride Inlet, about 46 miles north-northwest of Gustavus and 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Haines, Alaska. McBride Inlet is recently exposed by the receding terminus of the glacier and is now about 4 miles (6.5 km) long. McBride Glacier was named in 1890 by Harry Fielding Reid for H. McBride a member of the survey team.

McBride Glacier is about 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide and less than 10 miles (16 km) long. Its ice face is approximately 200 feet (61 m) high above the waterline and currently extends to a depth of 270 feet (82 m). Ice flow rates have not been measured, but are estimated to be about 3,000 feet (915 m) per year. McBride Glacier has been steadily thinning and retreating by ice calving since the 1960s after its separation from Muir Glacier. Submarine moraines mark several positions in McBride Inlet where the ice margin was in a stable position for several years. Over the last 5 years, retreat rates have increased with occasional massive ice calving events releasing enough large icebergs to fill all of McBride Inlet. The rate of retreat accelerated in 1999 when the ice margin receded from water depths of 60 feet (18 m) at the edge of a proglacial basin with depths of 120 feet (36 m) to 140 feet (43 m) depth, and into a deeper basin where depths were measured to be greater than 250 feet (76 m). McBride Glacier is expected to continue receding at a rapid pace.

The McBride, Morse, Muir, Casement, and Riggs glaciers terminate at tidewater and connect to Muir Inlet. Muir Inlet starts at the terminus of the Muir Glacier and extends south for 30 miles (48 km) to Glacier Bay. The inlet was named in 1883 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey for John Muir who visited this area in 1879 and again in 1899. In 1879, Muir relied on Tlingit guides. He was the first in a long line of distinguished scientists to visit and bring attention to this remarkable area. Largely due to his enthusiastic writings, Glacier Bay became a popular tourist attraction, as well as the focus of scientific inquiries, during the late 1880s and 1890s. Read more here and here. Explore more of McBride Glacier here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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