Glacier Viewing in Alaska

Posted on Friday, January 07, 2011

The ice age is still active in Alaska. There are an estimated 100,000 glaciers in the state and observing them is certainly a highlight of any visit.

  • From the deck of a cruise ship, watch and listen as tide water glaciers creak and calve with huge chunks crashing into the sea.
  • Look for Glacier Bay, Tracy Arm, Hubbard Glacier and College Fjord on your cruise itinerary for a glacier experience.
  • These rivers of ice which flow from ice packs high in the mountains are magnificent when viewed closely from a helicopter. Some flightseeing tours land on the ice so you can hike or ride a dog sled.
  • Mendenhall Glacier at Juneau is big, beautiful and one of the most accessible glaciers. Take a shuttle bus from the pier to stop by the visitors centre and enjoy the many hiking trails.

Glaciers in Alaska

Posted on Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ever wonder why glacier ice looks blue?

This is because of how the sunlight passes through the ice and what happens to the sunlight.  Sunlight looks white; however, the light is really made up of all the colors of the rainbow.  You may recall seeing this when using a prism in middle school science classes.  Each of the sun's colors have different wavelengths, or amounts of energy in them.  When the sunlight tries to go through the solid glacier ice crystals the sun gets broken up into lots of colors.  Red and yellow have very little energy and the thick ice soaks up the red light more than it soaks up the blue light. The blue light has enough extra energy to get away from the solid ice crystals without getting absorbed or soaked up.  This is why the only color people see is the blue color that escaped.

Best Glaciers of Alaska:

  • Grand Pacific Glacier (Glacier Bay National Park): Three intimidating walls of ice surround boats that pull close to the glaciers.
  • Exit Glacier (Seward):  It towers above like a huge blue sculpture, the spires of broken ice are close enough to breathe a freezer-door chill down on watchers.
  • Western Prince William Sound: On a boat from Whittier, you can see a couple dozen glaciers in a day. Some of these are the amazing tidewater glaciers that dump huge, office-building-size spires of ice into the ocean, each setting off a terrific splash and outward-radiating sea wave.

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