Kaskawulsh Glacier

Kaskawulsh Glacier - Canadian Glacier Inventory Project
Aerial view of the Kaskawulsh Glacier (Source: Alaska and Canada, www.geo.uu.nl/fg/berendsen/photography/alaska. Photography by H.J.A. Berendsen)

Location: The Kaskawulsh Glacier extends from the northeastern slope of the St. Elias Mountains in the Yukon Territory. Meltwater flows into the Pacific Ocean and the Alsek and Yukon River system in the north (Dewart, 1968).


Kaskawulsh Glacier - Canadian Glacier Inventory Project
The accumulation area of the Kaskawulsh Glacier. (Source: University of Iowa. Picture taken by Richard G. Baker)

Click here to view historical aerial photographs of the Kaskawulsh Glacier.

Click here to see photographs contributed by Janet Gersh.

Glacier Behaviour:
The Kaskawulsh Glacier is retreating and this has and will continue to have an adverse effect on the water levels of the Kluane Lake (Johnson, 2007).

The Kluane Lake is the largest lake in the Yukon Territory, with its water extend for 70km and draining north into the Yukon River. The lake is considered one of the Yukon's "crown jewels" and preservation of the lakes beauty is important to the province. Today, approximately 80 percent of the meltwater from the Kaskawulsh Glacier flows northwards, through the Slims River and into Kluane Lake; the other 20 percent flows into the Kaskawulsh River and then flows east and south into the Alsek River, which drains into the Pacific Ocean. However, this pattern is slowly reversing every ten years, resulting in a drop in the water levels of the Kluane Lake (Johnson, 2007).

Kaskawulsh Glacier - Canadian Glacier Inventory Project

A satellite image of the Kaskawulsh Glacier. This image gives a clear picture of the numerous tributaries converging into the Kaskawulsh Glacier. The Slims River and Kaskawulsh River are located in the top right corner in which the Kaskawulsh Glacier drains into. (Source: From the archrives of the U.S.G.S. Glacier Studies Project. Map reference: Mount St. Elias map sheet 115B and 115C, 1:250 000 scale)

Glacier Characteristics:
The Kaskawulsh Glacier is the result of two converging outlet glaciers, the Central and North Arms.

The Central Arm is heavily crevassed with many small steep glaciers which feed the Arm from both sides (Dewart, 1968).

The North Arm receives many small glaciers from the north slope which separates it from the Central Arm (Dewart, 1968).

The glacier moves outward from 2000-3000m in elevation from the St. Elias Mountains and separates into broad valley glaciers. Its' lowest elevation is at sea level where it becomes a coastal piedmont glacier. (Dewart, 1968)

Altitude: 2000-3000m above sea level

Length: 350km from the Alsek River to the Chugach Mountains (Dewart, 1968)

Width: Central arm has a width of ~3.5km and the North arm is ~2km. Where the two arms converge to form the Kaskawulsh glacier, the width is 5-6km (Dewart, 1968)

Volume/Mass:The Kaskawulsh Glacier covers more than 25 000 sq. km. and forms part of a continuous icefield.

Dewart, G., 1968. Seismic Investigation of Ice Properties and Bedrock Topography at the Confluence of Two Glaciers, Kaskawulsh Glacier, Yukon Territory, Canada. Institute of Polar Studies, Report No. 27

Feature and Place Names shown on 'Kluane Glacier (NTS 115B14)'
map_locations.php?nts=115B14&YBTOPOMAPS=q0354i9hbf3is8e2o1s64qoan4. Accessed on February 6, 2007

Johnson, P., 2007. Kluane Glaciers in Retreat. http://www.taiga.net/yourYukon/col193.html. Accessed on February 6, 2007