La Perouse Glacier, Fairweather Range

La Perouse Glacier, Fairweather Range

by | Apr 23, 2021

La Perouse Glacier is located in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, about 116 miles (187 km) southeast of Yakutat and 40 miles (65 km) northwest of Gustavus, Alaska. The glacier starts on the south slope of Mount Crillon, and flows south for 15 miles (24 km) to the Gulf of Alaska. The glacier is an outstanding landmark along this coast because the higher mountains are usually obscured by clouds, and the glacier presents a seaward-facing wall of ice 200-300 feet (60-90 m) high. The glacier was named in 1874 by William Healey Dall, of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, for Jean François de Galaup, Comte de Lapérouse, a French navigator who explored the coast in this area in 1786.

Lapérouse, or La Perouse, was a French naval officer, who was sent in 1782 to Canada to attack the British forts on Hudson Bay. In 1785, he was given command of an expedition of exploration by Louis XVI. The goal was to complete the Pacific discoveries of Captain James Cook, including to correct and complete maps of the area, establish trade contacts, open new maritime routes, and enrich French science and scientific collections. His ships were the L’Astrolabe and La Boussole. He sailed in 1786 from the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) to the Alaska coast and made landfall near Mount Saint Elias where he mapped the coast in late June 1786. On 13 July 1786, an expedition barge and two longboats, carrying 21 men, were lost in the heavy currents of Lituya Bay. The expedition continued south to explore the coast and the outer islands of present-day British Columbia.

They returned across the Pacific in 1788; however, after departing from Australia, neither Lapérouse nor any of his men or ships were seen again. Parts of his ships were found in 1827 on Santa Cruz Island in the New Hebrides in the South Pacific. Read more here and here. Explore more of the La Perouse 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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