We used ground-penetrating radar (GPR), GPS and glaciochemistry to evaluate melt regimes and ice depths, important variables for mass-balance and ice-volume studies, of Upper Yentna Glacier, Upper Kahiltna Glacier and the Mount Hunter ice divide, Alaska. We show the wet, percolation and dry snow zones located below 2700 m a.s.l., at 2700 to 3900 m a.s.l. and above 3900 m a.s.l., respectively. We successfully imaged glacier ice depths upwards of 480 m using 40–100 MHz GPR frequencies. This depth is nearly double previous depth measurements reached using mid-frequency GPR systems on temperate glaciers. Few Holocene-length climate records are available in Alaska, hence we also assess stratigraphy and flow dynamics at each study site as a potential ice-core location. Ice layers in shallow firn cores and attenuated glaciochemical signals or lacking strata in GPR profiles collected on Upper Yentna Glacier suggest that regions below 2800 m a.s.l. are inappropriate for paleoclimate studies because of chemical diffusion, through melt. Flow complexities on Kahiltna Glacier preclude ice-core climate studies. Minimal signs of melt or deformation, and depth–age model estimates suggesting 4815 years of ice on the Mount Hunter ice divide (3912 m a.s.l.) make it a suitable Holocene-age ice-core location.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal of Glaciology


International Glaciological Society

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