Science Diary: Glaciers – Ice Tunnel

Science Diary: Glaciers – Ice Tunnel

Music; Ambience: Glacier

JM: A glacier may seem to be a vast, barren landscape of ice, but there’s a hidden world of tunnels and constant change. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. P. Jay Fleisher is a Professor of Earth Science at the State University of New York in Oneonta. He studies the movement and behavior of Alaska’s Bering Glacier inside and out.

PJF: “The research that’s currently underway includes mapping the internal structure of the glacier that’s accessible from this camp and also investigating anomalous surface depressions called lacunas which are, oh, 50 to 60 meters, sometimes even bigger. Elliptical shaped depressions through which water often runs. And sometimes there’s even ponds in them. And also had a group on the glacier yesterday investigating ice tunnels for the purpose of making estimated calculations of the amount of melt water that passed through the tunnels when they were last occupied. These tunnels are within the glacier, but because the glacier surface melts down about 10 meters every year, those internal tunnels eventually are exposed at the surface and can be studied.”

JM: On the glacier, the slightest change in the weather can bring on dangerous conditions, which can hamper research.

PJF: “For the most part, the weather has cooperated, although yesterday by mid afternoon some cold air from the mountains moved down over the moist air and started to generate fog. That’s a substantial concern because we can’t negotiate very well on footing on a glacier surface when it’s foggy, can’t pick a route. And similarly, it’s not very safe to be trying to move through the fog on a lake that contains icebergs.”

JM: Our thanks to Earthwatch. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Science Diary: Glaciers - Ice Tunnel

Melting glaciers reveal hidden tunnels within.
Air Date:02/27/2013
Scientist:
Transcript:

Science Diary: Glaciers - Ice Tunnel

Music; Ambience: Glacier

JM: A glacier may seem to be a vast, barren landscape of ice, but there's a hidden world of tunnels and constant change. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. P. Jay Fleisher is a Professor of Earth Science at the State University of New York in Oneonta. He studies the movement and behavior of Alaska's Bering Glacier inside and out.

PJF: "The research that's currently underway includes mapping the internal structure of the glacier that's accessible from this camp and also investigating anomalous surface depressions called lacunas which are, oh, 50 to 60 meters, sometimes even bigger. Elliptical shaped depressions through which water often runs. And sometimes there's even ponds in them. And also had a group on the glacier yesterday investigating ice tunnels for the purpose of making estimated calculations of the amount of melt water that passed through the tunnels when they were last occupied. These tunnels are within the glacier, but because the glacier surface melts down about 10 meters every year, those internal tunnels eventually are exposed at the surface and can be studied."

JM: On the glacier, the slightest change in the weather can bring on dangerous conditions, which can hamper research.

PJF: "For the most part, the weather has cooperated, although yesterday by mid afternoon some cold air from the mountains moved down over the moist air and started to generate fog. That's a substantial concern because we can't negotiate very well on footing on a glacier surface when it's foggy, can't pick a route. And similarly, it's not very safe to be trying to move through the fog on a lake that contains icebergs."

JM: Our thanks to Earthwatch. Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.