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Columbia Glacier, Valdez

4.4
#4 of 7 in Parks in Valdez
The Columbia Glacier is a glacier in Prince William Sound on the south coast of the U.S. state of Alaska, is one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world, and has been retreating since the early 1980s. It was named after Columbia University, one of several glaciers in the area named for elite U.S. colleges by the Harriman Alaska Expedition in 1899.The Alaska Marine Highway vessel M/V Columbia is named after the Columbia Glacier.SizeThe glacier twists its way through western Alaska's Chugach Mountains. The bald streak at the bottom of the mountains, called the trimline, shows this glacier has lost 1,300ft of thickness. It has also retreated 10.5mi since that measurement was taken.RetreatThe glacier's speed of retreat at the terminus reached a maximum of nearly 30m per day in 2001, when it was discharging icebergs at approximately 7km3 per year; the glacier has subsequently slowed down, resulting in an increase in retreat rate. The terminus has retreated a total of 16km at an average rate of approximately 0.6km per year since 1982. The retreat has been accompanied by nearly 500m of thinning at the present position of the terminus. In the next few decades it is expected to retreat another 15km, to a point where the bed of the glacier rises above sea level. Columbia Glacier's retreat should be completed around 2020. Tidewater glacier advance and retreat is not directly forced by climate (adjacent tidewater glaciers may be simultaneously advancing and retreating), but rapid retreat appears to be triggered by climate-forced long-term thinning.
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Columbia Glacier Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5.0
241 reviews
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4.0
TripAdvisor
  • We had a nice trip out to the Glacier and back. The weather was chilly, but we were prepared. No rain though! Great service and friendly staff answered our questions and offered information as we tour...  more »
  • This glacier is of the most beautiful and greatest glaciers we have seen. Its blue colors are magnific, and the icebergs that loosen have different colors and shapes. A grandeur of nature with millions of years.
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  • The Columbia Glacier is one of the most rapidly changing glaciers in Alaska according to the U.S.G.S. Make sure you get your photographs now and then you can compare decades into the future to see how much the glacier has retreated. If this review was helpful please click the Like button.
  • The glaciers are melting but it is a sight to see

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