Baird Glacier, Thomas Bay

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Baird Glacier, Thomas Bay

by | May 29, 2019

The Baird Glacier starts near the Alaska-Canada border and flows southwest for 22 miles (35 km) to its terminus north of Thomas Bay, about 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Petersburg, Alaska. Thomas Bay extends about 10 miles (16 km) southwest to Frederick Sound. The glacier was named in 1887 by Lieutenant Commander C.M. Thomas of the U.S. Navy for Spencer Fullerton Baird, a pioneer American naturalist noted for his studies of North American birds while Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution from 1850-87, and U.S. Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries from 1871-87.

Baird Glacier drains the west side of the Stikine Icefield in southeast Alaska. It has a large glacial outwash plain and terminal moraine in front of the ice which supports a diversity of plant and animal life. The outwash plain developed over many decades of sand deposits due to floods and coastal uplift. The terminal moraine is a prominent, long mound of cobble, boulders, and sand left behind when the glacier terminus rested there for many years.

In 1990, the Baird Glacier was sitting on the outwash plain with no lake at the terminus. In 2013, two lakes had developed, about 1300-2000 feet (400-600 m) wide, and the glacier terminus had begun a measurable retreat and these lakes will continue to expand. The retreat of the Baird Glacier is now joining the rest of the Stikine Icefield glaciers already in retreat such as the Sawyer Glacier, Patterson Glacier, and Great Glacier. Read more here and here. Explore more of Baird Glacier here:

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