Crossing the Icefield

The Juneau Icefield Research Program (JIRP) offers high school and college students a unique real-world learning experience. Students spend the summer crossing the icefield by ski, all while learning firsthand from scientists about life on the icefield and the research being done there. Students even get to participate in some icefield data gathering.
Annika Ord, assistant field operations manager for JIRP, and Clem Taylor-Roth, a high school student who recently participated in JIRP, explain what it’s like to be up on the icefield, and how an experience there can be life-changing.
Our Changing Earth team spent time filming on the Mendenhall Glacier while in Juneau, and agree that time on the icefield is indeed a transformative experience. We traveled up onto the glacier by helicopter, and camped several nights there, amid persistent fog and rain. The eerie but indescribably beautiful landscape on the glacier, from the unearthly blue color of the ice, to the deep crevasses and massive boulder fields, to the towering granite mountains that flank the glacier’s sides, captured our imaginations and helped us understand the features, power, and importance of these slowly moving rivers of ice.

View the JIRP video story above, and then learn more about southeast Alaska and its natural environment via these other video stories from Juneau:


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