Bering Glacier from space
Bering Glacier on 9/29/2002
Credit: NASA Earthobservatory

New measurements have confirmed that North America’s largest glacier has been melting away about twice as fast as scientists previously thought.

The immense Bering Glacier — which covers more than 2,000 square miles on Alaska’s “lost coast” between Prince William Sound and Yakutat — has been spewing more than seven cubic miles of water into the Gulf of Alaska each season, according to calculations by Robert Shuchman, co-director of the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI).

That’s about 1.1 trillion gallons of water, more than twice the volume found in the Colorado River system, Shuchman said. It’s about 20 times the annual flow of the Yukon River, based on an annual estimate of 225,000 cubic feet per second.

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