"Glacier Bay landscape, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, 2015." by U.S. National Park Service , public domain
Guide Summer 2021
The Summer 2021 edition of The Fairweather Visitor Guide to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (NP&PRES) in Alaska. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Summer 2021 V I S I TOR G U I D E Trails���������������������������page 5 Boating & Camping...page 22 Wildlife��������������������� page 30 Table of Contents General Information����������������������� 3–13 Explore Glacier Bay highlights Park Science������������������������������������ 14–19 Discover stories behind the scenery Guide to Park Waters Map������������20–21 Traveling, Boating & Camping���� 22–29 Plan your adventure Wildlife��������������������������������������������30–36 Look, listen, and protect For Teachers������������������������������������������ 37 Share Glacier Bay with your class For Kids�������������������������������������������������� 38 Become a Junior Ranger Stay Connected ������������������������������������ 39 Support your park Additional Information. . . . back cover Emergency, Medical, and Contact Us The Fairweather Produced by: Designed by: National Park Service and Alaska Geographic Park Coordinator: Laura Buchheit Editor: Matthew Enderle Graphics: Sean Tevebaugh Welcome to Glacier Bay Welcome to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, a place defined by beauty and hope, change and resilience. These are familiar concepts reflected in the challenges we face with the pandemic and our shared efforts to protect what we treasure. If you are here this summer, then you successfully navigated the gauntlet of new requirements, restrictions, and fears of travel. You might even have a better appreciation for the challenges faced by those in the past who came to visit this special place. By now, we had all hoped that we might be further along in our ability to freely visit our National Parks. We also feared that finding a vaccine and a path out of the pandemic might take much longer. Instead, we now find ourselves in the middle place. Alaska’s communities and travel industry are excited to start to welcome people back, but the lack of herd immunity requires us to be cautious and many remote communities here are justifiably concerned. Luckily, many of the best experiences in Glacier Bay – such as breathing in the quiet beauty rather than the air of a crowd – are found outside and can be enjoyed responsibly so our most vulnerable are protected. Parks are about shared ownership, working together as a nation and world to care for a treasure we want to pass on to our children. Successfully dealing with the pandemic requires much of the same: collective action to preserve what is precious. Collaboration is especially important for our vulnerable populations: the tribal elders who hold so much of Tlingit culture, or the people who worked so hard to create the communities and protect the areas you are visiting and who still live here. Please join us in helping to keep this special place special and to ensure the safety and well-being of yourselves, your fellow travelers, and our local communities. There is a memorial coin beneath each of the four house posts in Xunaa Shuka Hit (page 6), the Eagle and Raven poles outside, and the Healing totem (page 8). These coins have a statement, engraved in Tlingit and English, that drive every decision and every action this park takes: Haa yátx’i jeeyís áyá For Our Children Forever. Philip Hooge, Superintendent Enjoying these places requires flexibility in thought and action. You may find your mid-summer trip occurring when many restrictions have been relaxed and local and regional COVID-19 cases are very low, or you may find yourself in a time of rising numbers and tightening restrictions. Contributors: Michael Bower, Laura Buchheit, Brian Buma, Kat Connelly, Sara Doyle, Lisa Etherington, Chris Gabriele, Margaret Hazen, Philip Hooge, Emma Johnson, Tania Lewis, Dan Mann, Sandy Milner, Mary Beth Moss, Janet Neilson, Steven Schaller, Melissa Senac, Lewis Sharman, Scott Gende, Ingrid Nixon, and Darlene See. Special thanks to the following photographers: Kaytie Boomer, Michael Bower, Brian Buma, Sara Doyle, Janene Driscoll (inside cover), Chris Gabriele, Tania Lewis, Dan Mann, Craig Murdoch (front cover), Janet Neilson, Sean Neilson, Steve Schaller, Sean Tevebaugh, and NPS seasonal staff. The Fairweather is published by Alaska Geographic Association and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Printed on recycled paper using soy-based inks. ©Alaska Geographic Visitors to Bartlett Cove can still experience the wild, glacial landscape of Glacier Bay. Glacier Bay offers a myriad of opportunities to “Find Your Park.” 3 Explore Bartlett Cove Trails Bartlett Cove is the only developed area within the wilds of Glacier Bay. The forests and shorelines offer great opportunities for hiking and exploring. Maps are available at Glacier Bay Lodge and the Visitor Information Station (VIS). Forest Trail Distance: 0.7 miles (1.1 km) one way Time: 30 minutes–1.5 hours This leisurely stroll meanders through a lush forest that grows atop a glacial moraine. A wheelchair accessible boardwalk takes you part of the way, leading to two viewing decks that overlook a serene pond. Return along the shore for an easy one-mile loop. The shores of Barlett Cove offer opportunities to explore... If you just have a few hours... If you have a half day... Stop by the Visitor Center: On the second floor of the Glacier Bay Lodge is the National Park Service (NPS) information desk and exhibits. Open daily when lodge is open. Educational materials and souvenirs available for purchase from Alaska Geographic. Hike to the Bartlett River: See trail details, page 5. Walk the Forest Trail: See trail details, page 5. If you have a full day... Go for a beach walk: See trail details, page 5. Explore the intertidal zone at low tide: See map page 5. Hike to Bartlett Lake: See trail details, page 5. Join a Ranger Program: See bulletin boards or park website for schedule of activities happening during your visit. Go for a paddle: There are several options for kayaking around Bartlett Cove. Take a guided kayak trip, or rent your own from Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks. Visit the Whale Exhibit: See one of the largest humpback whale skeletons on display in the world. Located near the Visitor Information Station. Become a Junior Ranger: Kids can pick up their free Junior Ranger Activity Book from the NPS information desk at the Glacier Bay Lodge, or from the Visitor Information Station (VIS). See page 38. View the Tribal House and the Healing Pole: Walk along the Tlingit Trail to explore Huna Tlingit connections to Glacier Bay. See pages 6–8. Explore Glacier Bay on the Dayboat: Spend the day exploring Glacier Bay to observe wildlife and tidewater glaciers. Stop by the lodge for availability*. Get the Latest Schedule of Events Please see the NPS Visitor Center information desk in the Glacier Bay Lodge, the bulletin board in front of the lodge, or the Visitor Information Station (VIS) near the public dock for updates and information on available services. 4 Tlingit Trail Distance: 0.5 mile (800 m) one way Time: 30 minutes–1 hour Enjoy this easy stroll along a forested shoreline. View the Healing Pole and a traditional Tlingit canoe, admire a complete whale skeleton, learn about common native plants, and take in the Raven and Eagle totems, as well as the exterior of the Tribal House. Bartlett River Trail Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km) round trip Time: 4–5 hours Explore a dense spruce-hemlock rainforest. The trail through the forest ends at an estuary near the mouth of the river. Each summer, spawning salmon attract otters, eagles, seals, and bears. Anglers enjoy fishing there, too. Bartlett Lake Trail Distance: 8 miles (16 km) round trip Time: 7–8 hours About ¾ of a mile down the Bartlett River Trail you will find the lake trail, a branch trail that climbs the moraine. This primitive trail is a rugged day-hike, with rewards of solitude and a tranquil lake. Bring water, food, and rain gear. Explore the Shore Distance: varies The shoreline beyond the docks continues for miles past the campground. You may observe land and marine wildlife. Look for birds, listen for whales, and watch for sea otters feeding near shore. This is not a maintained trail. 5 Xunaa Shuká Hít Xunaa Shuká Hít stands proudly on the shores of Bartlett Cove. Dressed in the beaded vest of a Tlingit elder, tribal interpreter Don Starbard shares with visitors: “There’s a good balance now. Yes, our young people are going off to college to become successful. But our language is strong. Our dance is strong. Our canoe culture is strong, and, most importantly, our connection to Homeland remains strong.” All summer long, visitors gather at the Tribal House. They listen to traditional stories and explore the intricately carved and painted building. Cultural interpreters working for the National Park Service (NPS) and the Hoonah Indian Association (HIA), the tribal government, share deeply of their traditions, history, enduring connection to Glacier Bay homeland, and the collaborative efforts that led to the completion of this magnificent building. throughout Glacier Bay prior to the Little Ice Age. Although villages inside the bay were overrun by glacial advances in the 1700s, the Huna Tlingit reestablished fish camps and seasonal villages soon after glacial retreat. Establishment of Glacier Bay National Monument in 1925 (and later National Park) and implementation of laws and park regulations led to a period of alienation and strained relationships between tribal people and the NPS. Time and new understandings have brought much healing. In recent years, the NPS and HIA worked cooperatively to reinvigorate traditional activities, develop cultural programs for youth and adults, amend regulations to allow for a broader range of traditional harvests in park boundaries, and preserve oral histories. For countless generations, the Huna Tlingit sustained themselves on the abundant resources found The most symbolic cooperative venture—Xunaa Shuká Hít (roughly translated as Huna Ancestors’ House)— HIA cultural interpreter leads a group down the Tlingit Trail to Xunaa Shuká Hít. 6 Hoonah youth welcome traditional dugout canoes on Bartlett Cove’s shoreline during the 2018 Healing Pole Dedication. Tribal members dance and sing during the August 2016 Tribal House Dedication. NPS cultural interpreter shares messages represented within the Raven and Eagle totems. now stands proudly on the shoreline of Bartlett Cove. Dedicated in August 2016 and opened to the public in summer 2017, it now draws thousands of visitors from around the world. sides of Xunaa Shuká Hít. In August 2018, these poles were joined by Yaa Naa Néx Kootéeyaa (Healing Pole). This totem, collaboratively designed by NPS and HIA, reveals the story of the journey through a painful past to a healthier, more meaningful partnership. Xunaa Shuká Hít is a place of learning, growth, inspiration, and continued healing for generations to come. A team of clan leaders, craftsmen, planners, architects, and cultural resource specialists designed Xunaa Shuká Hít to reflect a traditional architectural style reminiscent of ancestral clan houses with modern touches suitable for the needs of the community today. Inside the Tribal House are four richly detailed massive cedar interior house posts and an interior house screen which depicts the stories of the four primary Huna Tlingit clans and their tie to Glacier Bay homeland. These cultural elements impart spiritual value to the Tribal House, and, as importantly, their design and completion expand the circle of tribal members who hold traditional skills and share in cultural knowledge. The 2,500 square foot Tribal House is not only a place for visitors to learn about Tlingit traditions, but is also a venue for tribal members to reconnect with their traditional homeland, life-ways, and ancestral knowledge. Within months of its dedication, the Tribal House inspired native high school students to spend their winter school break at the Tribal House learning traditional crafts from elders and culture bearers. Months later, hundreds of tribal members gathered to raise the Eagle and Raven totems that grace the Images of the Huna Tribal House dedication and carving projects are available on the park’s website under the Tribal House Media Gallery. To learn more about special events and opportunities to experience the Tribal House, check the posted activity schedules in Bartlett Cove or ask a ranger. Traditional songs inspire the strength and stamina to carry the Raven and Eagle totems at the May 2017 Totem Raising. 7 Planning for our Park Yaa Naa Néx Kootéeyaa I believe we are on a path - that our people will be remembered...” - Frank Wright Jr, President of Hoonah Indian Association Our pole...is a story pole. It is, essentially, the recorded history, not only of the Huna Tlingit, not only of Glacier Bay National Park, but of our long, sometimes painful, sometimes joyous, journey together. - Philip Hooge, Superintendent Journey of Healing Philip Hooge (left) and Frank Wright, Jr. (right) at the Healing Pole Dedication. The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the Raised on August 25, 2018, Yaa Naa Néx Kootéeyaa (Healing Pole) tells the story of the long journey for both Huna Tlingit and the National Park Service to heal years of misunderstandings and hurt. Designed collaboratively by tribal elders, carvers, and NPS staff, the pole contains a mix of traditional formline design and modern representations of symbols—differentiating it from other poles in Southeast Alaska. Glacier Bay is the traditional home and “breadbasket” of the Huna Tlingit—sustaining them physically and spiritually until a rapidly advancing glacier pushed them out in the late 1700s. The Huna Tlingit felt that the federal government—a faceless, soulless being with too many hands—barred them from many traditional practices upon their return after the glacier receded. Traditional dugout canoes support healing journeys cooperatively planned by NPS and the Hoonah Indian Association—connecting tribal members with Glacier Bay homeland. Visit the Healing Pole next to the Visitor Information Station, and read the complete story from bottom to top at our website: go.NPS.gov/healingtotem 8 American people so that all may experience our heritage. Glacier Bay by satellite, from NASA’s Earth Observatory. Your Opinion Counts You are a part of a long legacy of adventurers inspired by Glacier Bay! Keep connected and involved even from afar. The NPS relies on your feedback to help guide stewardship of America’s great natural and cultural resources. Glacier Bay National Park is currently working with the NPS to update some of the park’s management plans. This planning effort will strengthen the park service mission to provide for visitor enjoyment while also preserving the park’s extraordinary natural and cultural heritage for future generations. Please take the time to visit our Frontcountry and Backcountry Management Plan websites (see below) or contact us (see right) to learn more about our process and progress, and to offer your unique perspective. There are multiple ways you can be involved. Follow implementation of the updated Bartlett Cove plan: go.nps.gov/GLBA_FMP Frontcountry Management Plan website Follow Glacier Bay wilderness experience planning: go.nps.gov/GBwild Backcountry Management Plan website Stay Tuned! You don’t need to live close by to be connected and stay involved. You can follow progress and offer feedback to inform park planning in the following ways: √ SUBSCRIBE to our planning notification list by sending us your contact information: email@example.com Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve PO Box 140 Gustavus AK 99826 √ FOLLOW the park’s social media for press releases and planning announcements (public meetings, review drafts, comment periods). √ VISIT US ONLINE to learn more about park management: https://www.nps.gov/glba/ getinvolved/planning.htm Visit the NPS online portal for real time public notices and comment opportunities: Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) https://parkplanning.nps.gov/glba 9 Timeline of Glacier Bay 1980 Congress, under 1794 Since time immemorial, Tlingit clans live in the area that is now Glacier Bay. Advancing glaciers in the 1700s during the Little Ice Age force the Tlingit out of their homeland. After the Little Ice Age, the glacier melts back and the ocean fills the valley quickly, creating Glacier Bay. 1750 1770s–1790s European explorers arrive. Excursions led by Captains Malaspina, La Perouse, Cook, Vancouver, and many others provide the first western descriptions of the area and its people. Cartographers create the first maps of the area and non-Native names are given to landforms. 10 Captain George Vancouver of the H.M.S. Discovery and Lt. Joseph Whidbey describe Glacier Bay as “a compact sheet of ice as far as the eye could distinguish.” The “bay” is a mere five-mile indentation in the coastline. 1800 1925 Ecologist William 1883 James Carroll and other commercial steamship captains make Muir Glacier a popular tourist destination. 1850 1900 Park Service and Hoonah Indian Association sign a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a working partnership. 1950 1916 U.S. Congress passes the Organic Act, creating the National Park Service. part of the “Mission 66” initiative that brought facility improvements to national parks nationwide during the 50th anniversary of the National Park Service. 2020 Reduced park operations continue with limited visitation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, Glacier Bay welcomes over 640,000 visitors. 2000 2016 1966 Glacier Bay Lodge opens as 1879 John Muir, guided by Tlingit men, paddles into Glacier Bay. They find the glacial ice has retreated 40 miles since 1794. Muir returns three times over the next 15 years. He constructs a cabin, makes extensive observations of glaciers, and explains interglacial tree stumps. The eloquent writings of enthusiasts like Muir and Eliza Scidmore begin attracting new visitors to the bay. S. Cooper, studying plant succession in Glacier Bay, and the Ecological Society of America persuade President Coolidge to establish Glacier Bay National Monument. the leadership of President Jimmy Carter, signs the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act into law. Glacier Bay becomes a national park and preserve encompassing 3.3 million acres. 1995 The National 1992 UNESCO designates Glacier Bay, along with Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (Alaska), Kluane National Park Reserve (Canada) and Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park (Canada), as a 24-million-acre World Heritage Site, one of the world’s largest internationally protected areas. The National Park Service celebrates its centennial: 100 years of “America’s Best Idea.” Glacier Bay celebrates with the opening of the Huna Tribal House, a collaborative project with the Hoonah Indian Association. The building serves as a cultural anchor and a place of learning. 11 World Heritage Glaciers A cruise ship appears small within the expansive Glacier Bay landscape. Through careful vessel management, Glacier Bay National Park seeks to balance visitation with resource preservation. International Connections A cruise ship sails into Glacier Bay, one of potentially only two for that summer’s day. The ship’s company follows voluntary environmental protocols to reduce vessel emissions and lower impacts. The ship’s crew curtails activities aboard, encouraging passengers to take in the wilderness around them. Interpretive rangers, invited aboard for the day, share stories of the park and its significance. After visiting the tidewater glaciers, the ship eventually departs leaving nothing but its wake. the 50 marine sites on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) converged on Bartlett Cove for a symposium with one major goal: to learn from each other how to best manage their protected areas. Over the five-day event, managers from sites all over the world shared stories of the challenges they face including increasing visitation, climate change, and marine pollution. They also shared solutions. This Glacier Bay model of vessel management is a significant reason why in September 2019, managers of According to Superintendent Philip Hooge, the gathering was a chance to highlight the park’s success with public-private partnerships. “Working together with the cruise industry we have been able to successfully deal with some of the issues associated with cruise tourism,” he said, “and achieve higher environmental standards using means other than the regulatory process.” Park Superintendent and West Norwegian Fjords Board Chairman sign Sister Park Agreement at Lamplugh Glacier. 12 While in the bay in front of the Lamplugh Glacier with the marine managers cheering on, Superintendent Hooge signed a Sister Park Agreement with representatives of West Norwegian Fjords World Heritage Site in Norway. The two sites have much in common in that they both feature scenic fjords with major visitation by cruise ships. “This provides an incredible opportunity for protected areas that share so much to learn from each other,” said Hooge. A glacier flows from the Fairweather Mountains. Glaciers continue to change in response to their environment. Rivers of Ice Tall, coastal mountains and an abundance of snow make Glacier Bay a comfortable home for hundreds of glaciers. Storms from the Pacific Ocean collide with the towering Fairweather Mountains, often producing rain at sea level and snow at higher elevations. More snow falls each year than melts in the mountains. The snow compacts, forming ice. With the influence of gravity, the ice slides down the mountainside. Basically, ice in motion is a glacier. As a glacier flows down the mountainside, it reaches warmer elevations. When the air above a glacier is above freezing or if it is raining, then ice melts. The balance between the amount of ice forming and ice melting determines whether a glacier advances (grows) or retreats (shrinks), though it always flows forward. Glaciers shrink in size when more ice is lost from melting than gained from snowfall. “Words and dry figures can give one little idea of the grandeur of this glacial torrent flowing steadily and solidly into the sea, and the beauty of the fantastic ice front, shimmering with all the prismatic hues, beyond imagery or description.” -Eliza Scidmore, 1883 A few glaciers, called tidewater glaciers, reach all the way to the ocean and are strong enough to survive with their ice touching warm ocean water. Tidewater glaciers have a naturally occurring cycle of advance and retreat that has shaped Glacier Bay for millennia. A few hundred years ago, a glacier that sat mid-way down the bay for centuries advanced rapidly until it came to the waters of Icy Strait. The salty ocean water caused the glacial ice to melt and dramatically break away in a process called calving. Snowfall couldn’t keep up with the amount of melting and calving, so the glacier retreated quickly. All of the glaciers visitors see in the park today are remnants of that once large glacier. Changes to glacial ice continue in Glacier Bay. While tidewater glaciers are still influenced by ocean water, all glaciers are now impacted by a rapidly warming planet. Glacier Bay National Park will continue to study glaciers as the climate warms. As a living labratory, Glacier Bay provides outstanding opportunities to explore the intricate dynamics of glaciers. 13 Park Science Visitors and researchers alike from around the world explore and admire Glacier Bay. The dramatic retreat of glaciers created a premiere scientific laboratory. Explorer John Muir initiated the park’s remarkable legacy of scientific inquiry in the late 1800s. Botanist William Cooper secured protected status for Glacier Bay following his research about how plant life follows glacial retreat. In fact, the initial proclamation protecting Glacier Bay National Park states research as a reason for national preservation. From whales and plankton to climate and otters, research is a common occurrence in the protected laboratory of Glacier Bay. This scientific study provides greater understanding and appreciation for the wilderness we explore. Learn more by reading the following pages, and make your own discoveries in Glacier Bay. “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” - Albert Einstein William S. Cooper recognized Glacier Bay as a living laboratory. He studied the process of pioneer plants colonizing land recently revealed by retreating glaciers. Meet a researcher Sandy Milner, Pioneer of Glacier Bay Streams Dr. Milner has studied streams created after glacier retreat for 40 years. Dr. Alexander “Sandy” Milner has been researching Glacier Bay’s streams for 38 of the past 40 summers! His first visit was as an undergraduate student on an expedition from Chelsea College, UK in 1977. Here he found a natural living laboratory, a place to pioneer research on how life establishes in new streams. Today, Dr. Milner is regarded as the world expert on stream ecosystem development following glacial retreat. His work has revealed the patterns of stream succession as new watersheds form in this dynamic landscape. As streams age, the stream channels stabilize, water clarity improves, and water temperature The mouth of Wolf Point Creek (pictured 40 years ago) emerged from under the retreating glacier in the mid 1940s. 14 increases. Aquatic insect fauna become more diverse and abundant. Salmon colonize new spawning habitat. Dr. Milner has shared his passion for learning and for Glacier Bay as a professor at the University of Alaska and the University of Birmingham (UK). He has supervised 12 graduate students (ten of them Ph.D.’s) and authored 26 scientific journal articles focused on stream development in Glacier Bay. The transformation of streams continues to captivate Dr. Milner. When asked why he returns to Glacier Bay, he explained “I would never have thought when I sampled a cold Wolf Point Creek [Muir Inlet] with no vegetation on a barren landscape in the late 1970s as it emerged from the ice, that I would still be sampling the same stream 38 years later in a cottonwood forest with so much biodiversity and thousands of salmon spawning. The stream system is still dynamic and every year a new discovery is evident.” The stream now supports pink salmon runs of more than 12,000 fish. A Vision of Preservation People visit Glacier Bay to view amazing scenery, dramatic glaciers, and spectacular wildlife. Yet a century ago one man saw something else of great value here: incredible opportunities for science. monument. One of the monument’s fundamental mandates was to preserve the opportunity to conduct scientific studies, making Glacier Bay a true “park for science.” Botanist William Skinner Cooper (1884–1978) came to Glacier Bay in 1916 to study how plants colonize newly-exposed ground following glacial retreat. He recognized Glacier Bay as the best place on earth to witness the process of “plant succession,” a fascinating interplay of plants, nutrients, soil, and time. In this process the bare ground emerging from beneath a glacier goes through various stages to become a rich, thick, mossy evergreen forest of towering spruces and hemlocks. Dr. Cooper returned to his beloved Glacier Bay many times to document the successional development in the study areas and plots he established on his first visit. Dr. Cooper’s students and other scientists continue his work on how ecosystems respond to glacial recession and, more broadly, global climate change. This ongoing research makes Glacier Bay the oldest continuously researched post-glacial landscape in the world. Dr. Cooper saw a natural laboratory in Glacier Bay where scientific principles could be discovered as well as tested; a place where completely new scientific questions could be asked. As a prominent member of the Ecological Society of America, Dr. Cooper successfully led a committee of colleagues in a vigorous campaign to lobby President Calvin Coolidge for protection of the Glacier Bay area in 1925 as a national Glacier Bay is preserved as public land for many reasons: protection of wildlife habitat, scenery, value to the world, enjoyment by present and future generations, and as a living laboratory. Glacier Bay still inspires new discoveries today. Ecologist Brian Buma continues the legacy of research on Dr. Cooper’s original plots. From rock to rainforest—in just 75 years! Images taken at the same location document the landscape changes. 15 Park Science Ninety-five percent of Alaska’s glaciers are thinning, stagnating, or retreating. The Ice Is Melting The Earth’s climate is changing—and fast! In Glacier Bay, glaciers are rapidly shrinking and ocean temperature is rising. Scientists who study the Earth’s climate have documented warming temperatures in Alaska due to increased carbon dioxide levels. Warming temperatures lead to changes in fire cycles, tree growth, animal migrations, and rapidly melting glaciers. Ninety-five percent of Alaska’s glaciers are currently retreating, thinning, or stagnating. Importantly, the rate of thinning is increasing. Glacier Bay’s glaciers follow this trend. Recent research determined that the area covered by ice in Glacier Bay has shrunk 15% from 1950 to now. Nevertheless, heavy snowfall in the towering Fairweather Mountains means that a few glaciers might remain stable in Glacier Bay, a rarity in today’s world. Take a good look at the glaciers you see in Glacier Bay today. The next time you see these glaciers, they will be different. Alaska and other polar regions experience the effects of climate change more strongly than other places. Decades of data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies show that Alaska and the polar regions have warmed more than twice as much as the rest of the earth. Climate change is a reality for Alaskans, threatening villages with coastal erosion, changing subsistence practices, and altering weather patterns. Ask park rangers about what changes they have noticed in Glacier Bay. 16 There is good news. Humans are inventive, resourceful, and capable of overcoming great challenges. Although climate change is a global concern, we each hold a part of the answer to minimizing its impact. The Earth’s climate is changing and Glacier Bay is warming. How will these changes affect you? One fact is certain: the choices we make today will make a difference in the future. A weather station high above the bay collects information that will contribute to understanding Glacier Bay’s changing climate. Tracking Ecosystem Change Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a place of constant change. What you see today will be different tomorrow. Visitors experience a dynamic landscape and seascape that are continually adjusting, balancing the forces of nature. In many ways, intricately linked climate and ocean processes drive the park’s changes. Some connections are quite clear—glaciers recede in a warming climate. Others are less obvious—ocean acidity impacts the food webs that many of the park’s most iconic species, such as humpback whales and sea otters, depend on. Therefore, long-term records of climate and ocean conditions provide the necessary backdrop for understanding the changes occurring in Glacier Bay. Just as a doctor assesses your health based on a medical history, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve along with the NPS Southeast Alaska Network inventory and monitoring program are assessing Glacier Bay’s health through long-term monitoring of selected climate and ocean “vital signs.” Eight weather stations have been installed throughout the park to track climate health. These automated stations monitor long-term trends in