Investigating Climatic Conditions in Alaska Ice Caves and
Glacial Caves on Volcanoes in Washington and Oregon
Andreas Pflitsch, Professor of Physical Geography
Head, Working Group on Cave and Subway Climatology
Ruhr-University Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Andreas Pflitsch is a professor of physical geography who studies climatic conditions in ice caves and glacial caves on volcanoes—and also in city subways. At ISER, he’ll first talk about his Alaska research in ice caves in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, near the old mining town of Kennecott, and in an abandoned railroad tunnel in Keystone Canyon, close to Valdez. He looks at factors that influence ice build-up in the caves—including air temperature, humidity, and airflow—and he’ll talk about the effects of climate change on the ice dynamics inside the caves.
He’ll also discuss results of his recent studies of climatology in caves inside Sandy Glacier on Mt. Hood in Oregon, and the glacier in the West Crater of Mt. Rainier in Washington. Previous investigations of glacier climatic conditions have focused mainly on the glacier’s surface, or on moulins leading to its interior. But many glaciers have far-reaching cave systems inside the ice. Dr. Pflitsch has found that both geothermal activity and airflow between openings at the glacier terminus and higher moulins cause drastic melting inside the glacier—leading to significantly stronger melting from the inside than observations at the surface and models suggest. That melting can cause unexpected glacier collapse and glacial outburst flooding.
Andreas Pflitsch is on the faculty of Ruhr University in the German city of Bochum. He describes himself as fascinated by cold climates like those on mountaintops or in ice or glacial caves, and since 1996 he has studied climatic conditions in caves in a number of U.S. states. He is also interested in climatic conditions in subways, and has assessed those in New York and other cities.
When: Thursday, March 23, 12 to 1
Where: ISER Conference Room,
Third Floor, 1901 Bragaw Street, Suite 301
1901 Bragaw Street is between Northern Lights and DeBarr Road. Parking is free.
Call 786-7710 for directions.
Note: Those who can’t attend in person can stream the talk live at: