U.S. national parks and glacier research are inextricably linked. They are also an integral part of our history and cultural identity. For example, John Muir studied glaciers at Yosemite, Glacier Bay, and other future park areas. He measured glacier movement and recognized signs of past glaciations. Most U.S. glacier research now occurs in national parks due to the areas that they protect. Of the approximately 75,000 km2 of glacier coverage in the U.S., only 683 km2 lies outside of Alaska. Glaciers covering an area of 43,745 km2 are wholly or partly enclosed within nine Alaskan parks. 29,041 km2 occur in Wrangell-St. Elias alone. The relationship of national parks and glaciers is not mere chance. As Robert Sterling Yard said, “Geology is the anatomy of scenery”. Glaciers are responsible for the scenery and habitat of many national parks from Glacier to Glacier Bay. Here, I highlight past contributions from glacier researchers in national parks and how glaciers have shaped the foundations of many national parks.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.