Image of the Day: The Tongue of the Malaspina Glacier

Credit: NASA and USGS

A Landsat 7 satellite image shows the tongue of the Malaspina Glacier, the largest glacier in Alaska and the largest piedmont glacier — a glacier that ends on flat land rather than in the ocean — in the world.

Research has shown that glaciers around the world have been retreating at unprecedented rates, and Alaska, which has only 5 percent of the total ice Greenland has, lost a volume of ice equal to nine states 3 feet thick between 2004 and 2007 alone.

Of the approximate 1.25 inches per decade of current sea level rise, researchers estimate that globally, glaciers and ice caps — among which Alaska is making the biggest contribution — are contributing perhaps more than 20 percent of this rate.