Weather and Climate Monitoring in Glacier Bay and Klondike

Weather station sits on a green hilltop with rugged mountains behind.
Deception Hills Weather Station

NPS Photo

How does the weather vary from place to place in the park?
How is climate in the region changing over time?

Principal Researchers:

Andrew Bliss (NPS Southeast Alaska Network)
Michael Bower (NPS Southeast Alaska Network)
Cory Thole (NPS KLGO)
John Hinrichs (NPS KLGO)
Tom Ziomek (NPS Southeast Alaska Network)


Ongoing since 2015

Introduction and Methods

Weather and climate (long-term averages and variations of weather) are important for a wide variety of organisms, including people. Beyond helping us decide what to wear, knowing about the weather aids in planning trips to remote backcountry sites in our national parks via boat or airplane.

Weather and climate are also crucially important to the glaciers of the park. Winter snowfall adds mass to the glaciers while warm summer temperatures melt glacial ice, leading to glacier mass loss. Most of the glaciers in the parks have been retreating since the Little Ice Age ended roughly 150 years ago, but the retreat is expected to continue well into the future as human-caused climate change continues.

Operating weather stations allows us to simultaneously aid operations of the parks and provide baseline measurements of climate change.

We maintain 8 weather stations in strategic locations across Glacier Bay National Park and 3 in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Each weather station records air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, snow depth, solar radiation, and soil temperature. Data are uploaded via satellite so that measurements can be viewed in near real-time by the public and park staff:. Data are also stored on board the climate station and later downloaded and archived for quality control and analysis of long-term trends in weather and climate.

Study Area

A map of roughly 200 square miles showing Glacier Bay and Klondike NP sites' weather stations
Location map of SEAN climate stations in Southeast Alaska

NPS / Southeast Alaska Inventory & Monitoring Network (SEAN)


a graph of temperatures measured across all weather stations in Glacier Bay and Klondike sites.
Monthly average temperatures color coded to each weather station
The summer of 2017 was cooler than either 2016 or 2018. High elevation stations (especially Chilkoot Pass) have cooler temperatures than low elevations stations, as expected. Winter temperatures are usually in the 20s and summer temperatures are in the 50s Fahrenheit.

Deception Hills, Queen Inlet, and Chilkoot Pass are the windiest sites - so windy that multiple wind sensors have been destroyed. Low elevation, forested sites have the lowest winds but show faster winds in winter and calmer conditions in summer.
A graph showing wind speeds measured across Glacier Bay and Klondike weather stations
Monthly average wind speeds color coded to each weather station

These stations do not have long enough records to assess climate trends at this point. Through comparisons with long-term stations in Juneau and Yakutat we hope to be able to estimate recent climate in Glacier Bay. Other researchers have been working on longer-term climate changes too, for example by looking at variations in tree rings.

Learn More

The data from these stations and detailed descriptions of station installation and data processing are available from the NPS Data Store:

Near real-time data are available at:

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Last updated: November 9, 2020