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Evening at Egan to focus on glacial outburst flood

Posted: September 19, 2012 - 11:03pm

This week’s Evening at Egan lecture will focus on the Mendenhall Glacier outburst flood that occurred in July, 2011. The lecture, “Monitoring the Mendenhall Outburst Flood,” begins at 7 p.m., in the Egan Lecture Hall on Friday, Sept. 21.

Suicide Basin has now filled and emptied for two years in a row, raising water levels on Mendenhall River and Mendenhall Lake. Eran Hood, UAS Associate Professor of Environmental Science, said it is no fluke that this previously unusual event has now happened in two consecutive summers. “There’s pretty good reason to believe that every single year, that basin’s going to fill up,” Hood said.

“Jökulhlaup” is the Icelandic term for the drainage event, also known as a “glacier dammed outburst flood.” It occurs when water fills up a glacial or subglacial lake basin to the point where the ice dam holding it back is forced aside. Outburst floods from glacier damned lakes are a common occurrence in high mountain regions.

The City and Borough of Juneau is an active partner with UAS for a Suicide Basin Monitoring Program. The CBJ purchased equipment that will be shared with the University to better understand the basin water levels. This partnership also includes the Forest Service for permitting, USGS, and the National Weather Service for monitoring, forecasting, alert and notification.

Hood and Assistant Professor of Geophysics Jason Amundson will discuss the origins of the Suicide Basin outburst flood on the Mendenhall Glacier and present results from flood monitoring efforts on the glacier in the summer of 2012 and discuss future work aimed at better understanding this local natural hazard.

All Evening at Egan lectures are simulcast on UATV Cable Channel 11.

For more information and a full schedule, visit www.uas.alaska.edu/eganlecture/

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