Glacier Monitoring Research
Monitoring and Assessing
Glacier Changes and Their Associated Hydrologic and Ecologic Effects
in Glacier National Park
Secondary Glacier Network:
Chaney, Grinnell, Stanton, Agassiz, Swiftcurrent, Jackson-Blackfoot
The Secondary Glacier Network includes six glaciers that
form a north-south transect of approx. 60 km through the region, with
Sperry Glacier just south of center. While these glaciers will be monitored
less frequently than the benchmark glacier, Sperry, this network will
provide data about the variability of processes that
Secondary Glacier Network
• Chaney (2200 - 2350 m., 48o51’00”/
• Grinnell (1980- 2200 m., 48o45’10”/ 113o43’30”)
• Stanton (2350- 2600 m., 48o20’20”/ 113o46’20”)
• Agassiz (2350- 2560 m., 48o56’10”/ 114o09’45”)
• Swiftcurrent (2200 - 2330 m., 48o46’05”/ 113o44’43”)
• Jackson-Blackfoot (2200- 2600 m., 48o20’20”/ 113o40’05”)
Proposed measurements over the next 5 seasons (2005 – 2010):
• GPS mapping of margins/ termini
• Continued repeat photography
• Streamflow measurements below Grinnell Glacier and Upper Grinnell Lake.
• Surface mass balance measurements
• Remote sensing
Topographic characteristics: Chaney glacier
is contained in a basin which is hydrologically well defined with one
main outflow stream. It has a good elevation range which extends from
the cirque floor to, in one section, the surrounding ridge top. This
elevation range is a common characteristic for glaciers in the study
area. Chaney glacier is located on the E side of the Continental Divide
and is NE facing. A small, pro-glacial lake has formed near the center
of the glacier in recent years; calving into the lake complicates measurements,
though it is nowhere near the scale of the calving into Grinnell.
Accessibility: Chaney glacier requires a day
and a half of trail and cross-country travel to reach during
through early autumn, with longer and more difficult access
in early spring and winter. Glacier travel is fairly straightforward
with a few crevasses to negotiate.
Previous research/monitoring: Remote
sensing and repeat photography.
Grinnell glacier sits in a basin which is hydrologicaly well defined and
contains a stream gauge below
the outlet of the terminus glacial lake (this gauge has just been reactivated
in 7/04 from its past life of 1958 – 1971). Grinnell is located on
the E side of the Continental Divide and is NNE facing, and is centrally
located within the Network. Some problems with Grinnell’s topography
are that the terminus often calves off into the lake, it is a fairly
low angle glacier, it is highly crevassed and time consuming to negotiate,
and rock and snowfall are fairly common occurrences on the upper end
Accessibility: Grinnell glacier is easily accessible
in late spring through early autumn, somewhat accessible in early spring, but
difficult to access in winter.
Previous research/monitoring: There has been a history
of monitoring on Grinnell glacier including ablation stakes, radar
work, remote sensing, stream
gauging equipment, GPS recordings of glacier margin, and repeat photography.
Topographic characteristics: Stanton glacier is a
north-facing glacier located at the southernmost end of the study area
and outside the park. It has a good elevational gradient and is in a
hydrologically well defined basin.
Accessibility: A good climb with a path most
of the way in late spring through early autumn.
Previous research/monitoring: Remote sensing.
Topographic characteristics: Agassiz glacier is located in a cirque basin
which is hydrologically well defined with one main outflow stream. It is
located west of the Continental Divide and is one of the northern most
glaciers in the study area and faces NNE.
Accessibility: Agassiz glacier takes two days of
trail and cross-country travel to reach during summer through early autumn;
a shortcut up Pocket
Creek shortens travel distance in the winter, though it still requires
two days of travel.
Previous research/monitoring: Tree ring data collection
to determine glacial recession rates, remote sensing, and repeat photography.
Topographic characteristics: Swiftcurrent glacier is located in a NE facing
basin just E of the Continental Divide. It is fairly small in size compared
to other glaciers considered for the Secondary Network but is contained
in a hydrologically well defined basin.
Accessibility: Swiftcurrent glacier is easily
accessed from spring through autumn in a day’s hike. There
is a cabin within a mile of the glacier from which work can be based.
The glacial basin
is easily accessed from the
ridge above the glacier.
Previous research/monitoring: Repeat photography.