Over the years, the crushing weight of these snows forms dense blue glacial ice. Some Alaskan glaciers are born of snow that fell long before the Industrial Revolution. Scientists test ice core samples to gain insight into the earth’s past atmospheric conditions.
Scientists also study glaciers for clues to global warming, which has been more dramatic in Alaska than other regions. The average global temperature has risen 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last 100 years. In Alaska, it has gone up nearly 5 degrees. Some of Alaska's glaciers began their retreat 250 years ago, while others began to retreat only in the last 25 years. As you behold the spectacles of Southcentral's glaciers, consider the cycles of change presently underway.
The Chugach Mountains record some of the highest snowfalls on earth. One thousand inches can fall in a year – that’s equal to the height of an 8-story building! The Chugach Mountains trap so much moisture coming off the Gulf of Alaska that Anchorage, lying on the inland side, gets only 10-15% as much precipitation.