News Release

Bear Glacier: Glacial Lake Outburst Flood

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Date: November 9, 2020
Contact: Laura Sturtz, 907-422-0500

Seward, AK – Flood conditions are expected in the lagoon at the terminus of Bear Glacier. Based on photographs from a remote camera, it appears that an ice-dammed lake located 7 mi above the terminus of Bear Glacier began draining around November 4th or 5th. Due to the season, the park has not yet received any eye-witness accounts of changing conditions in the lagoon or surrounding marine waters. However, draining of the ice dammed lake can create hazardous boating conditions that might include: an increase in iceberg calving at the terminus of Bear Glacier, standing waves and strong currents, or the redistribution of sediment and debris in channels like the one that exists at the outlet of the lagoon. Past glacial lake outburst floods have produced ice chunks as large as 6 x 6 ft above the water surface as well as small, less visible pieces which could cause significant damage and/or injury to boat traffic. Visitors are advised to always exercise caution in this very dynamic area.

Flooding in the lagoon at Bear Glacier’s terminus is expected for the next few days. Both large and small ice chunks, up to 6 x 6 ft in size, may be present in Resurrection Bay. Floating ice will likely be present at the mouth of Resurrection Bay indefinitely. Boaters in marine waters should be extra cautious to avoid hitting ice.

The park is currently conducting additional research to learn more about the nature and frequency of this hazard. At this time, we are asking all visitors, commercial operators, and others to please stay alert to changing conditions when in the lagoon at Bear Glacier as well as throughout Kenai Fjords National Park.

For the most up-to-date information on the status of this area, contact the park at 907-422-0500. Reports of unusual conditions or events are always appreciated.

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 1727
Seward, AK 99664


907 422-0500

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