Arctic Challenge for Sustainability Project

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Report of the FY2017 Program for Overseas Visits by Young Researchers: My research at Geophysical Institute and LeConte Glacier, Alaska

I stayed at Glaciers Group of Geophysical Institute in University of Alaska Fairbanks for four months from May until September, 2017 (Photo 1). The purpose of the visit was to discuss and analyze my field data obtained during the previous fieldwork campaigns in Patagonia and Greenland. Also, my aim was to conduct fieldwork in an Alaskan glacier for a comparative study, as well as to establish a cooperative framework with the people at the university.

During my stay at the university, I carried out analyses especially on glacier calving. Calving is one of the most crucial mass loss processes for glaciers, but is not well understood since its direct observation is quite challenging and has scarcely been conducted! So, I made use of surface water waves generated by glacier calving to study calving. Also, I analyzed satellite images to study ice front position, surface ice speed and surface elevation changes of LeConte Glacier where I would conduct field activities during my stay.

After the four-month stay in Fairbanks, I went down to LeConte Glacier, which is located 100 km south of Juneau (Photo 2). There I joined a project being conducted among three universities; University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), Oregon State University (OSU) and University of Oregon (UO). In the project, researchers focus on ice-ocean interaction studies using several cutting-edge instruments. I carried out the surface wave measurements for quantification of calving rates and collected measurements of water properties for computation of submarine ice melting (Fig. 1).

I thank everyone in the Glaciers Group of Geophysical Institute and members of the fieldwork campaign at LeConte Glacier for their warm welcome and support. Here are some pictures from Alaska.

Masahiro Minowa (Hokkaido University)

Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

LeConte Glacier

Calving tsunamis observed at LeConte Glacier