Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fireside Chat: Glacier forests

Last Friday night we hit our usual date spot excited to learn more about the forests recently discovered under the Mendenhall Glacier. We learned that while the ice where the trees are is only 200 years old, the trees themselves have been under ice for probably 1350 years.

The trees are approximately 100 year old trees - wait for it - spruce and hemlock that were pushed over and sheered off when the glacier advanced a millennium ago. The presenter had photos of the advancing Taku Glacier pushing over stands of trees so we could imagine what it would have been like when the Mendenhall was advancing. If you didn't know our forests here now are mostly Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock; I think the researcher was hoping for something fun like the yellow cedar that they have in Sitka, but alas this is not to be.

We also learned that finding these forests and other artifacts is not that unusual. A few years ago a long ago man was discovered outside Haines Junction, natives in Glacier Bay have oral histories about the loss of their villages, another forest is known near Auke bay, and a large fish trap was found on the bank of the Mendenhall River.

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