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Glacier Info - Nisqually Glacier

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Nisqually Glacier
The Nisqually Glacier is on the south side of Mount Rainier and gives rise to the Nisqually River. It is the most visited glacier on the mountain with its lower end lying close to the Longmire to Paradise Road. It is one of the several glaciers that extend from the top of the mountain and was the route used by August V. Kautz and his party on their attempted summit climb in July of 1857. According to the editors of Northwest Discovery magazine the first use of the name Nisqually Glacier was in late 1870 when it was so named in a letter written by Samuel F. Emmons to Clarence King. (Reese, 2009)

STATISTICS AS OF 2015 (Beason, 2017):

Aerial Extent:
1.62 ± 0.08 square miles (4.19 ± 0.21 km2) (Rank: 6 of 29)

Debris Cover:
0.63 ± 0.04 square miles (1.64 ± 0.10 km2) (Rank: 2 of 29)

Highest Elevation (Head):
14,397 feet (4,388 m)

Lowest Elevation (Terminus):
5,297 feet (1,615 m)

Elevation Range:
9,099 feet (2,773 m)

Length:
3.84 miles (6.18 km)

Average Slope:
30°

Average Flow Direction (Flows towards):
South (174°)

CHANGE IN EXTENT, 1896-2015 (Beason, 2017):
Units 1896 1913 1971 1994 2009 2015
Area, mi2 3.87 2.54 2.34 2.41 2.32 1.62
Area, km2 10.03 6.59 6.07 6.25 6.00 4.19

Area change between periods
1913 1971 1994 2009 2015
1896 -1.33 mi2
(-3.44 km2)
-1.53 mi2
(-3.95 km2)
-1.46 mi2
(-3.77 km2)
-1.55 mi2
(-4.02 km2)
-2.25 mi2
(-5.83 km2)
1913 -- -0.20 mi2
(-0.52 km2)
-0.13 mi2
(-0.33 km2)
-0.23 mi2
(-0.59 km2)
-0.93 mi2
(-2.40 km2)
1971 -- 0.07 mi2
(0.18 km2)
-0.03 mi2
(-0.07 km2)
-0.73 mi2
(-1.88 km2)
1994 -- -0.10 mi2
(-0.25 km2)
-0.80 mi2
(-2.06 km2)
2009 -- -0.70 mi2
(-1.81 km2)

Percent change between periods
1913 1971 1994 2009 2015
1896 -34.3 % -39.4 % -37.6 % -40.1 % -58.2 %
1913 -- -7.8 % -5.1 % -8.9 % -36.4 %
1971 -- 3.0 % -1.1 % -31.0 %
1994 -- -4.0 % -33.0 %
2009 -- -30.2 %

ESTIMATED CHANGE IN VOLUME, 1896-2015 (George and Beason, 2017):
PLEASE see important notes about this, below...
Units 1896 1913 1971 1981* 1994 2009 2015
Volume, mi3 0.2857 0.1877 0.1730 0.1738 0.1782 0.1711 0.1194
Volume, km3 1.1910 0.7826 0.7213 0.7246 0.7429 0.7131 0.4979
* = 1981 was the only year that glacial volumes have been measured. See note below.

Basal Shear Stress (τ): 2,967.91 lbs/ft2

Volume change between periods
1913 1971 1981 1994 2009 2015
1896 -0.0980 mi3
(-0.4084 km3)
-0.1127 mi3
(-0.4697 km3)
-0.1119 mi3
(-0.4663 km3)
-0.1075 mi3
(-0.4481 km3)
-0.1146 mi3
(-0.4779 km3)
-0.1663 mi3
(-0.6931 km3)
1913 -- -0.0147 mi3
(-0.0613 km3)
-0.0139 mi3
(-0.0579 km3)
-0.0095 mi3
(-0.0397 km3)
-0.0167 mi3
(-0.0695 km3)
-0.0683 mi3
(-0.2847 km3)
1971 -- 0.0008 mi3
(0.0034 km3)
0.0052 mi3
(0.0216 km3)
-0.0020 mi3
(-0.0082 km3)
-0.0536 mi3
(-0.2234 km3)
1981 -- 0.0044 mi3
(0.0182 km3)
-0.0028 mi3
(-0.0115 km3)
-0.0544 mi3
(-0.2267 km3)
1994 -- -0.0071 mi3
(-0.0298 km3)
-0.0588 mi3
(-0.2450 km3)
2009 -- -0.0516 mi3
(-0.2152 km3)

Percent change between periods
1913 1971 1981 1994 2009 2015
1896 -34.3 % -39.4 % -39.2 % -37.6 % -40.1 % -58.2 %
1913 -- -7.8 % -7.4 % -5.1 % -8.9 % -36.4 %
1971 -- 0.5 % 3.0 % -1.1 % -31.0 %
1981 -- 2.5 % -1.6 % -31.3 %
1994 -- -4.0 % -33.0 %
2009 -- -30.2 %

With the exception of data in 1981, all values here are calculated estimates based on work by Driedger and Kennard (1986), which calculates glacier volumes with the following equations:

If Glacier Length (L) > 8,500 ft:


If Glacier Length (L) < 8,500 ft:


Basal shear stress (τ) is calculated as:


Where V is the calculated volume of the glacier (ft3), A is the calculated area of the glacier (ft2), ρ is the density of ice (1.779 slug/ft3), g is the acceleration of gravity (32.178 ft/s2), and α is the average slope of the glacier.

If you need a really good research project, recalculating the glacier volumes at Mount Rainier is the way to go!

NOTES:


Data References: Beason, 2017, George and Beason, 2017, Reese, 2009, and Driedger and Kennard, 1986