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Free Picture: Malaspina Glacier, Alaska

Free Picture of Malaspina Glacier, Alaska

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This image from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra satellite covers an area of 55 by 40 kilometers (34 by 25 miles) over the southwest part of the Malaspina Glacier and Icy Bay in Alaska. The composite of infrared and visible bands results in the snow and ice appearing light blue, dense vegetation is yellow-orange and green, and less vegetated, gravelly areas are in orange. According to Dr. Dennis Trabant (U.S. Geological Survey, Fairbanks, Alaska), the Malaspina Glacier is thinning. Its terminal moraine protects it from contact with the open ocean; without the moraine, or if sea level rises sufficiently to reconnect the glacier with the ocean, the glacier would start calving and retreat significantly. ASTER data are being used to help monitor the size and movement of some 15,000 tidal and piedmont glaciers in Alaska. Evidence derived from ASTER and many other satellite and ground-based measurements suggests that only a few dozen Alaskan glaciers are advancing. The overwhelming majority of them are retreating. This ASTER image was acquired on June 8, 2001. With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region, and its high spatial resolution of 15 to 90 meters (about 50 to 300 feet), ASTER will image Earth for the next six years to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet.

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