Icefields to Oceans: A New Way of Looking at Glaciers

MSR SUMMIT REGISTER

“The struggle,” says scientist, Shad O’Neel, “is finding a common language.”

The 46-year-old geophysicist illustrates his point. “When I go to Mexico I understand what people are saying, and when they ask me a question I understand, but the problem is not knowing the language well enough to answer.”

“The various scientific disciplines are similar,” O’Neel says. “We get each other but we don’t know how to communicate very well.”

Far from the warm sun of Mexico, in September of 2018 I joined O’Neel and his team of three other geophysicists as they studied the Wolverine Glacier on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Selected by USGS in 1966, Wolverine is referred to as a “benchmark glacier,” meaning its qualities are representative of other important glaciers in the region, an enormous area that encompasses nearly seven million acres, known as Chugach National Forest.

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USGS geophysicist Shad O’Neel is an Alaska based researcher focused on the connections between glaciers and marine environments. Standing above the Wolverine Glacier on the Kenai Peninsula, O’Neel explains the nuances of time-lapse photography.

USGS geophysicist Shad O’Neel is an Alaska based researcher focused on the connections between glaciers and marine environments. Standing above the Wolverine Glacier on the Kenai Peninsula, O’Neel explains the nuances of time-lapse photography.