Mendenhall Glacier is located about twelve miles from Juneau, and is the fifth largest icefield in North America. It was originally known as Sitaantaagu (“the Glacier Behind the Town”) by the Tlingits, but it was renamed in honor of Thomas Corwin Mendenhall. It extends from the Juneau Icefield, its source, to Mendenhall Lake and ultimately the Mendenhall River. These beautiful pictures were taken by one if my best friends dad, whose work you can find here.
If you are not familiar with glaciers, they are made by fallen snow that, over many years, compresses into large, thickened ice masses. They form when snow remains in one location long enough to transform into ice.
The glacier has also receded 1.75 miles since 1958, when Mendenhall Lake was created, and over 2.5 miles since 1500. The end of the glacier currently has a negative glacier mass balance and will continue to retreat in the foreseeable future due to rising temperatures.
In many places, glaciers are the main source of drinking water. That is a huge issue for people whose main water source is glacial water. However, with the recession of the Mendenhall Glacier comes the Mendenhall Lake which is a unique ecosystem and is poplar for sports fishing.
People in Juneau go out to the glacier to check out the beautiful caves produced and cherish the beauty, because it sadly will be gone one day with the temperatures rising at this rate. Have you ever seen a glacier?