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Thorofare bar photo pair
Photo Credits: Joseph Meeker (NPS) (1957), R.D. Karpilo (2004)
Ecoregion: Alaska Range Mountains
Change Type: Glacial thinning and retreat
Glacial thinning and retreatAnimation is available
This photo pair shows a view to the west from the Eielson Visitor Center area at the flanks of Mt. McKinley. Look closer to see evidence of dramatic changeā€¦ in the 1957 photo, do you see a stripe of light colored ice below the foothills of the mountain? This is the surface of the Muldrow Glacier that stretches over 30 miles from the high slopes of Mt. McKinley. Notice that by 2004 the ice is no longer visible. Don't be fooled though! The ice is still there, it has just been covered by vegetation. As the glacial surface thins from melting, much of the sediment carried along frozen in ice is revealed and develops into a course soil, allowing the establishment of early successional plants. The bumpy green surface in the 2004 photo is actually Muldrow Glacier ice covered in vegetation. The vegetation then in turn, slows the melting of the ice by insulating it from the direct sun.