Articles | Volume 15, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 15, 265–282, 2021
The Cryosphere, 15, 265–282, 2021

Research article 19 Jan 2021

Research article | 19 Jan 2021

Debris cover and the thinning of Kennicott Glacier, Alaska: in situ measurements, automated ice cliff delineation and distributed melt estimates

Leif S. Anderson et al.

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Revised manuscript accepted for TC

Cited articles

Agarwal, V., Bolch, T., Syed, T. H., Pieczonka, T., Strozzi, T., and Nagaich, R.: Area and mass changes of Siachen Glacier (East Karakoram), J. Glaciol., 63, 148–163,, 2017. 
Anderson, L. S.: Glacier response to climate change: modeling the effects of weather and debris-cover, Dissertation, Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, December, available at: (last access: 15 November 2019), 2014. 
Anderson, L. S. and Anderson, R. S.: Modeling debris-covered glaciers: response to steady debris deposition, The Cryosphere, 10, 1105–1124,, 2016. 
Anderson, L. S. and Anderson, R. S.: Debris thickness patterns on debris-covered glaciers, Geomorphology, 311, 1–12,, 2018. 
Anderson, L. S., Armstrong, W. H., Anderson, R. S., and Buri, P.: Measurements and datasets from the debris-covered tongue of Kennicott Glacier, Alaska (Version 1.0.0), Zenodo,, 2020. 
Short summary
Many glaciers are thinning rapidly beneath debris cover (loose rock) that reduces melt, including Kennicott Glacier in Alaska. This contradiction has been explained by melt hotspots, such as ice cliffs, scattered within the debris cover. However, at Kennicott Glacier declining ice flow explains the rapid thinning. Through this study, Kennicott Glacier is now the first glacier in Alaska, and the largest glacier globally, where melt across its debris-covered tongue has been rigorously quantified.