Alaska's entire natural environment is breath-taking, but unique to this state are the glaciers. Although many places in the world were once formed by glaciers, today, these spectacular ice sculptures by Mother Nature are only found in cold environments surrounding the poles and in the highest mountains in other regions of the world. In Alaska, you can get up close and personal with the glaciers, learning about their movements and their impact on the environment.
The best place to see glaciers in Alaska is the aptly named Glacier Bay. This area has been through a number of glacial periods, and the glaciers still remaining here are thousands of years old. During a year, the glaciers flow forward, moving across the land at a rate of about 5 feet every day. Temperature does not come into play here as much as snowfall in the high mountains and gravity. Currently, the glaciers are in a "retreating" stage, which they have been doing for about the past 200 years.
The largest glacier in Alaska, and in North America, is the Hubbard Glacier. This glacier is one of the few in the "advancing" stage, which means that it is growing. Researchers are closely watching this glacier in regards to Russell Fiord, a body of water that is periodically closed off from the sea due to the glacier's advancement, creating floods and other ecological problems.
You can see a variety of animals living on these moving rivers of ice. Head to Glacier Bay and book a tour to learn more about glaciers, how they are effecting the Alaskan environment, and what you can do to help preserve nature in this area.