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Swirling Glacier
Swirling mass of greens, blues and reds.  Oops. Looks like the Why Filers spilled their poster paints. In reality, you are looking at a faraway shot of Yakutat Bay, Alaska. The wash of aqua in the middle is the Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in North America.

Tidewater glaciers – found mostly in and around Alaska – form slurries of ice when massive chunks of ice crack off the head of the glacier and fall into the sea. This process, known as calving, has produced a growing batch of icebergs that threaten to block the head of Alaska’s Russell Fiord. Scientists warn that if this happens, natural wildlife patterns (and a local airport) could be obstructed.

The Hubbard has been thickening and advancing toward the Gulf of Alaska since it was first mapped in 1895, which grants it special status among glaciers, most of which have been thinning and retreating during the last several decades.

Hubbard stretches 76 miles before it reaches the sea at the region shown here. Image taken by NASA’s Landsat 5 satellite.

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