The 13.6-mile-long Mendenhall ice cavern, located in Southeast Alaska, is one of the state’s most picturesque locations. The glacier also has several ice caves, which exposed an old forest due to melting ice in the previous decade.
Glaciers are made up of many collected snow solidified into ice. Unfortunately, due to the changing environment in Southeast Alaska, these slowly flowing rivers of ice have been receding throughout Alaska, and Mendenhall Glacier is no exception. It has retreated 1.75 kilometers since 1929 and will continue to do so shortly. The ruins of an ancient forest have been exposed from under the melting ice as the Mendenhall Glacier shrinks and retreats. In over 2000 years, the stumps and trunks have been revealed for the first time.
Some sprouting trees still have their roots in the ground and even have a little bark on them. It’s also easy to see how old the trees are since they’re in a growing posture. A team of experts recognized the trees as either spruce or hemlock based on the diameter of the trunks and the trees growing in the area now.
Glaciers and ice sheets formed, advanced, and then receded as the Earth went through a succession of ice ages. During these episodes, they often release molten ice streams, pushing gravel aprons beyond the glacier’s border. The forest was presumably buried by a layer of gravel, which encased the trees in a protective tomb of gravel.
Glacier retreat and melting are reasons for concern. Simultaneously, these historic trees provide us with a chance to learn about former climates.