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Improving Forecasts of Glacier Outburst Flood Events

Suicide Basin Glacier Outburst Flood, Juneau, Alaska (AK Host Agreement project)

Dates

Start Date
2018-01-01
End Date
2022-07-31
Release Date
2018

Summary

Suicide Basin is a glacier-fed lake that branches off Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska. Since 2011, Suicide Basin has been collecting melt- and rainwater each summer, creating a temporary glacier-dammed lake. Water that accumulates typically gets released through channels that run beneath the glacier. These channels are normally blocked by ice, but if the water pressure gets too high the channel breaks open, rapidly draining the basin in what is known as an “outburst flood”. In past years, these events have led to flooding along Mendenhall Lake and Mendenhall River in the most heavily populated neighborhood of Juneau. Because of the threats posed to infrastructure in the Mendenhall Valley, it is critical that scientists closely [...]

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MendenhallLake_MPD.jpg
“Mendenhall Lake, Alaska - public domain”
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Purpose

Suicide Basin is a dead ice branch off Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska. Since 2011, melt- and rainwater accumulate in the basin each summer, creating a temporary glacier-dammed lake. The lake drains during outburst flood events, causing substantial flooding along Mendenhall Lake and River. Because of the threats posed to infrastructure in the Mendenhall Valley, including forcing closure of the popular USFS campground at Mendenhall Lake, it is critical to be able to closely monitor and forecast the outburst flood events. The primary goal of our project is to design a tool to improve forecasting of the timing and flood peak associated with outburst events from Suicide Basin. The forecasting tool will be web interfaced and serve real-time monitoring data from our research station in Suicide Basin. After the onset of an outburst flood event, the web tool will also provide continuously updating forecasts of the flood peak (including timing) that will be used by the National Weather Service to warn the public about closures and threats to life and property.

Project Extension

projectStatusIn Progress

Mendenhall Lake, Alaska - public domain
Mendenhall Lake, Alaska - public domain

Map

Spatial Services

ScienceBase WMS

Communities

  • Alaska CASC
  • National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers

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Provenance

DEPTH-2.7.5

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