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Taku Glacier
Taku Glacier in 1992
Taku Glacier in 1992
Type Tidewater glacier
Location City and Borough of Juneau, Alaska, USA
Coordinates 58°26′57″N 134°04′42″W / 58.44917°N 134.07833°W / 58.44917; -134.07833
Area 261 square miles (428 square kilometers)
Length 57 miles (92 km)
Terminus Taku River
Status Advancing

Taku Glacier is a tidewater glacier located in Taku Inlet in the U.S. state of Alaska, just southeast of the city of Juneau.

The glacier was originally named Schultze Glacier in 1883 and the Foster Glacier in 1890, but Taku, the name the local Tlingit natives had for the glacier, eventually stuck. It is nestled in the Coast Mountains and originates in the Juneau Icefield. It is the largest glacier in the icefield and one of the southernmost tidewater glaciers of the northern hemisphere.

The glacier, which converges with the Taku River at Taku Inlet, has a history of advancing until it blocks the river, creating a lake, followed by a dramatic break of the ice dam. The most recent of these advances occurred in 1750. The glacier has advanced 7.5 kilometers since 1890, and is 1.5 kilometers from Taku Point. It is the only advancing glacier of the 20 major glaciers of the Juneau Icefield[1]. If the advance continues it would block the river again—this may happen again-but at the moment is unlikely. Since 1946, the glacier has been observed annually by the Juneau Icefield Research Program, which has documented its rate of advance since 1988 at 17 meters a year. The advance is due to a positive mass balance; that is, more snow accumulation than snow and ice melt. Until 1948 the glacier had a calving front; since then the terminus has been grounded

Due to the positive mass balance and the fact that it was no longer losing mass to icebergs, Taku Glacier has become insensitive to the warming that has impacted all other glaciers of the icefield. This has driven its advance. The recent negative mass balance 1989-2005 is not large enough to stop the advance yet, but is the first sign that the glacier's advance may not make it to Taku Point.

View across the Taku Glacier.
A small corner of Taku Glacier from above, 2007.
Taku Glacier at glacial snout

Taku Glacier is the namesake of the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry M/V Taku.

See also


  1. ^ Nichols College: "Terminus behavior of Juneau Icefield glaciers, 1948-2005.

External links



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