Highway Glacier


Highway Glacier is connected to the main highland ice of Penny Ice Cap, but it actually draws nourishment from a rather limited basin (Baird, 1955). The temperature of the ice was measured to be approximately -6 ºC, which is significantly higher than the temperatures found for Penny Ice Cap of -13 ºC (Baird, 1955). At 2000 meters there was a considerable accumulation of firn (about 50 meters) with an ice layer, possibly representing an abnormally warm summer, at 13 meters below the surface (Baird, 1955). The bedrock was found to be 250 meters below the surface of the ice, since there was a much higher accumulation rate then that seen on the Penny Ice Cap (Baird, 1955). The reason for this high rate of accumulation is because Highway Glacier is situated in a col surrounded by smooth hills, whereas Penny Ice Cap is on a windswept dome at the summit (Baird, 1955).

At 1000 meters where 3 ice streams meet to form the lower portion of the Highway Glacier there was found to be no rock floor basin, as one might expect at such a junction (Baird, 1955). This section showed regular U-shapes, with a maximum ice thickness of about 400 meters (Baird, 1955). The lower portion of the glacier grades very smoothly down to the Pangnitung Pass, where the slope of the floor is 1.3º and the slope of the ice is 3.3º (Baird, 1955). The ice was thinning on this glacier in 1953, where the glacier swings east into the pass (Baird, 1955). In this area the ice appears to be about 150 meters thick and was underlain by a moraine that is 30 meters thick when the material is unfrozen or 43 meters thick when frozen (Baird, 1955). Recession of Highway Glacier has been recorded of 60 to 90 meters between the years of 1925-1948, however the rate of melting slowed significantly between 1948 and 1955 (Baird, 1955).

Highway Glacier
Figure 1: Highway Glacier traveling through Pangnitung Pass (Nopper, 2000).


Glaciated Peninsulas Include:

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