Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Aialik Glacier Calving

To continue from my previous post, What Is At The Other Side of Harding Icefield, another glacier that flows out of Harding Icefield is Aialik Glacier.
Aialik Glacier, When It Was Peaceful
Aialik Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier of Kenai Fjords National Park. A tidewater glacier terminates at sea level and calves directly into the sea. 
Aialik Glacier Terminating Into the Gulf of Alaska
The source of Aialik Glacier is the vast Harding Icefield. The face of the Aialik Glacier is 300 to 400 feet high from sea level to top, but its source, the Harding Icefield, is 3500-4000 ft thick of ice. 
One of the natural dynamic changes that occurs in a tidewater glacier is ice calving. Ice calving is the sudden release of a mass of ice from a glacier or from an iceberg, or from other huge masses of ice. When we were close to the glacier but still at a very safe distance, we were asked to become quiet and listen to our surroundings. With silence, we saw and heard glacier calmness, and the chilly winds glued us onlookers in awe.
Hoodoo Like Structures of Aialik Glaciers
Then, we heard a cracking sound somewhere, soft at first, that we onlookers were looking where it came from. Then, the cracking sound started to rumble and roar, and we saw flakes of ice falling into the frigid waters of the sea. 
Aialik Glacier Calving
The falling ice roared like thunder, maybe many times louder. The sea jumps as the ice threw water into the air.
Splash of Ice Threw Water Into The Air (can you see the bird flying away?)
Then, the ice fall became softer, and gentler, looking more like a waterfall.
Icefall Thinning towards the end of Glacier Calving
Thin Ice Fall Looked Like A Waterfall
When all the calving was over, the meeting of the mountains, sea and ice looked calm again, as calm as we first saw it. Birds were flying into the glacier again, not flying away.
After the Glacier Calving, Everything Is Calm and Birds Flew In
A lot more ice spread out in the sea.
Ice That Fell from the Calving
As the sea calmed, we started seeing wildlife which seemed to be rejoicing either for a life spared,or for the ice that fell to answer their needs.
Sea Otter thankful for having Escaped the Wrath of Ice Fall or Thankful for More Ice
Sea Otters and Harbor Seals often haul out on icebergs, which offer refuge from terrestrial predators such as bears. Also, orca whales don't usually hunt in ice-choked fjords. The reason why fjord estuary ecosystem is one of the richest assemblages of life on Earth. 
Seal Looking Perhaps for a Bigger Ice to Haul For Safety
Happy Sea Otters, 
perhaps they sing: "let there be more ice, don't make them too big we can't climb, but don't make them too small either we'll get caught"
As we left Aialik Glacier, the experience still continue to linger, and the memories of the dynamic changes in nature serves as one of the living lessons of why everything has a purpose. 
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  1. guys dared to watch glacier calving from such a close distance? Wouldn't it be dangerous?

  2. singing with the Sea Otters sis, "let there be more ice, don't make them too big we can't climb, but don't make them too small either we'll get caught"...lovely series of photos...i could almost hear the roaring sound you mentioned and yes i saw the bird flying when a splash of ice threw water into the air...everything indeed has a purpose..thank you for sharing your wondrous Aialik Glacier Calving yah!

  3. Fantastic pictures, I would like to be there.

  4. oh my goodness these are breathtaking ! As usual your pictures are so beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  5. You left me breathless and amazed! The photos are extraordinary, fantastic, and majestic, Betchai!

    Enjoy your summer before it's back to the "drawing board"!

  6. That would have been amazing to se all of that ice falling. It must have been exciting.

  7. Aww..the girls loved their day with the seals when we last visited you, Beth. Btw, I know you don't put up awards, but i received one and it has been so difficult to chose which ten friends i will feature so i just relied on my top ten commentators which included you.. :) I decided to post for fun -teehee. Love yah, friend! :)

  8. It really is almost a spiritual experience to be part of that, isn't it, betchai? Your photographs are incredible. I am totally in awe!

  9. it must have been a dangerous experience. this is like watching National Geographic

  10. Gorgeous photos of the glacier. And I love the seals. Very cute. Awesome photos.

  11. This must be very "adventurous".

  12. I agree calving does sound like a thunder in the distance! It's such a wonderful surprise to see an animal on a piece of ice because of the vastness of the glaciers. Thank you for letting me know one of my pictures made you laugh in my last post. :)

  13. i like this post.thanks for sharing nice is amazing.

  14. That is so amazing. What a wonderful thing to experience.

  15. Beautiful! I wish I am there!! : )

  16. I have had so much fun looking through your site. I also visited your other site and it is just as good. It has been very warm here today and looking at the glaciers helped cool me off.
    The Joys of Simple Life is Nature Site of the Week at Nature Center Magazine.


  17. Very nice photography. I am glad that Emma told me to stop by.

  18. lovely share, I had fun going through many pics you have on your blog.

  19. Lena of Sacramento CaliforniaJuly 13, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    We were there on July 5th and the calving was enormous..... hundreds of thousands of tons of ice according to our captain on the Kenai Fjords tour we were on. He said it was the biggest calving that he's seen in ten years. We were very lucky to witness this.