Glacial Retreat of Glacier Bay, Ak Essay example

Submitted By KelseyMariee
Words: 557
Pages: 3

Kelsey Marie
Why Glaciers Matter Glacier Bay National Park is a very important place for the citizens of Alaska. While the biodiversity here is limited, Alaska natives and tourists alike treasure the beautiful glaciers covering the mountains that line the bay. While it may seem as if the melting of these glaciers does not affect wildlife around the bay, this is a false conclusion. If the glaciers were to completely melt, the bare rock underneath would need to undergo primary succession before it would be suitable for life. This means that the 3.3 million acres that the glaciers engulf would be left bare for the hundreds of years that it takes for primary succession to reach a climax community. For this reason, the change of the melting rate for these monumental glaciers is a crucial study. As previously stated, the melting can affect both the biodiversity and the economy of Glacier Bay, Alaska. It is crucial to understand the severity of the melting of glaciers in order to comprehend the many ripple effects caused by this seemingly unimportant liquefaction. Previous research on this topic has shown that the temperature of the glacial streams is typically above zero degrees on the Celsius scale in the summer months. However, this temperature consistently drops to freezing or below in the winter months (McDermott). Studies have also shown that there are three key factors that influence change in the mass of a glacier. These factors are elevation, exposure, and amount of snowfall over the glacier. In addition, it was found that 50% of most summer runoff is meltwater (Glacier). This shocking statistic is only increasing over time. How can this continue without causing biodiversity to drastically decrease? If the melting rate continues to increase, primary succession will begin to take place over the bare rock that is currently locked under the glaciers. Primary succession is an ecological necessity that repairs land that is not able to support life over the coarse of several hundred years. Undergoing primary succession would not only eliminate all biodiversity for hundreds of years, but it would also damage the economy of the Glacier Bay area. Because Glacier Bay, Alaska, has an