Summer 2010 Research Activities

Glacier Ablation
The Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) has been instrumenting the Bering Glacier with its custom Glacier Ablation Sensor System (GASS) units for several years. In addition to radiance, irradiance, ambient temperature, and wind speed sensors, the GASS units are equipped with an acoustic beam that measures the amount of ice that has melted from the surface of the glacier. These measurements are conducted with the intention of supporting other remote sensing and hydrological measurements of melt and for the purpose of extrapolating total annual melt from the Bering Glacier using a regression model.

Lake Level Monitoring
Lake level data collected by an in-situ sensor deployed annually in Vitus Lake enables a USGS investigator to calculate the amount of freshwater discharge due to the Bering Glacier. Due to the Glacier's proximity to and hydraulic connection with the Gulf of Alaska, these calculations show the flux of freshwater entering the world's oceans from the Glacier on an annual basis.

Seismic Events at the Bering Glacier
Basal sliding (movement of the glacier on its water-lubricated underside) and calving events have been recorded by a team of graduate students and faculty from Michigan Technological University's Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences Department since 2007. Their research continues with generous support from IRIS-PASSCAL, which provided the geophones and infrasound equipment used. The project proceeds with the hopes of shedding light on the physical nature of surge events.

Fish Studies and Nearshore Biota Sampling
How does vigorous melt influx impact biological systems within the fresh-water lake environment? This is a question that faculty and staff from the Biological Sciences Department at Michigan Technological University are attempting to answer with field surveys of macroinvertebrates and fish collected from the nearshore areas of Vitus Lake. This nearshore productivity zone may prove to be important as a nursery for fish species which, in turn, are important to nesting and migrating waterfowl.

Vitus Lake Water Quality Measurements
Investigators from the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) are engaged in an ongoing study of the hydrology of Vitus Lake. This includes measuremetns of salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, suspended minerals, turbidity, pH, conductivity, oxidation-reduction potential in the lake. The aim of this study is to characterize the evolution of the Vitus Lake as a marine life habitat and to map the lake as it grows with the retreating ice front.

Terminus Height and Depth Measurements
The MTRI team is also mapping the glacier front (terminus) as it recedes, measuring the height above the lake surface and the depth to the bottom of the lake. This provides a total ice thickness at the terminus and also the rate of retreat of the glacier front.
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