Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

Stillness. Absolute quiet. Crisp coldness.

These are our overwhelming memories of this place. Arrive at the break of day and your ship will slow almost to a complete stop. Look overboard and there are no waves, no current. In fact there is no movement on the sea at all as you gently move through the ice towards the glacier.

The Hubbard Glacier is almost unique amongst glaciers.

Since 1900 this glacier has been advancing - demonstrating immunity to climate change. On two occasions (1986 and 2002) its ice-front blocked the mouth of the Russell Fjord. The dammed river was cleared in a cascading explosion known as a jokulhlaup but scientists expect this to occur again and again.

Our photograph cannot begin to show the scale of the Hubbard.

The sea-facing wall shown above is 80 metres high. Yet the glacier itself is over 90 miles long, and viewed from the air this glacier looks like a sheet of ice as thin as glass.

What is particularly striking is the blueness of the ice, caused by air that has been progressively trapped in the ice as new snow falls.

The Hubbard Glacier is the longest tidewater glacier in North America, and its great length relative to its width at the sea (calving front) is one of the reasons it is thought to be resisting the effects of climate change. The total area of the glacier is estimated to be 1,300 square miles.

Directly opposite the Hubbard is the Turner Glacier, shown in our photograph below left.

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska Hubbard Glacier, Alaska Hubbard Glacier, Alaska