North Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm

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North Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm

by | Aug 22, 2020

The North Sawyer Glacier, also called Sawyer Glacier, starts in British Columbia and flows west through the Coast Mountains for 22 miles (35 km) to Tracy Arm, about 78 miles (126 km) north of Petersburg and 53 miles (85 km) southeast of Juneau, Alaska.  The glacier was named in 1889 by Commander H.B. Mansfield of the U.S. Navy and published in 1891 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.

Tracy Arm is a fjord that was named after the Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Franklin Tracy. The fjord is part of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness, designated by the U.S. Congress in 1990 and is within the Tongass National Forest. Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness contains 653,179 acres (264,332 ha) and consists of  Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm. Both fjords are over 30 miles (48 km) long and one-fifth of their area is covered in ice. During the summer, the fjords have considerable floating ice ranging from hand-sized to pieces as large as a three-story building. During the most recent glaciated period, both fjords were filled with active glaciers. The twin Sawyer Glaciers, North Sawyer and South Sawyer are located at the end of Tracy Arm.

Tidewater glaciers are glaciers that terminate in the ocean at either a grounded terminus or floating ice tongue. The U.S. Geological Survey identified 59 current and former tidewater glaciers in Alaska, however, only 50 currently have a terminus at tidewater. Of these 50 glaciers, 14 glaciers are currently retreating from tidewater. The Coast Range of Southeast Alaska has four tidewater glaciers with a total area of 693 square miles (179,600 ha): North Sawyer, South Sawyer, Dawes, and LeConte glaciers. In general, these glaciers are all thinning and retreating, though none are rapidly retreating. Read more here and here. Explore more of North Sawyer Glacier here:

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