Meares Glacier, Unakwik Inlet

Meares Glacier, Unakwik Inlet

by | Jul 26, 2019

Meares Glacier is a tidewater glacier that starts between Aspero Peak and Mount Michelson in the Chugach Mountains and trends southwest for 15 miles (24 km) to Unakwik Inlet, about 42 miles (68 km) west of Valdez, Alaska. The glacier was named in 1909 by U.S. Grant and D.F. Higgins of the U.S. Geological Survey for 18th century British Naval Captain John Meares, a well known explorer and trader. Captain Meares, while on a trading expedition aboard the English vessel Nootka, spent the winter of I786-87 in Prince William Sound. The glacier is sometimes visited by cruises from Valdez.

The Meares Glacier is one of the most beautiful ice streams of Prince William Sound. The face of the glacier is one mile (1.6 km) wide where it calves into the inlet and forms a vertical wall of pure ice estimated to be at least 200 feet (61 m) high. Meares Glacier has been advancing since it was first observed in 1905. From 1910 to 2000 the terminus advanced about 0.7 mile (1.1 km). A large terminal moraine about halfway between the glacier and the mouth of the Unakwik Inlet near Jonah Bay represents the maximum extent of neoglacial ice advance and today presents a significant hazard to navigation.

Unakwik Inlet extends northward from the main body of Prince William Sound for about 22 miles (35 km). In 1790, Fidalgo and probably also Vancouver in 1794, visited this bay and found the upper part blocked by ice, but noted the noise made by the fall of ice from the glacier front. The bay is from 1 to 3 miles (1.6-4.8 km) wide and shoals in places with ancient moraine deposits. The depth of water ranges from 534 feet (163 m) about a 0.5 mile (0.8 km) south of the glacier to over 1,000 feet (305 m) near the inlet entrance There is much topographic evidence of former glaciation, the fjord walls are straight and steep with numerous hanging valleys from which streams cascade to the sea. Meares Glacier is not floating since there is insufficient water depth at the ice front to float the total ice thickness of 734 feet (224 m). Read more here and here. Explore more of Meares Glacier here:

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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. 

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