“Anchorage is one of the few North American cities that depend on a glacier for most of their drinking water. The Eklutna glacier also provides some of the city’s electricity, through hydro power. So a team of researchers is working to answer a very important question: How long will the glacier’s water supply last?
“To get that answer, those researchers have to shovel a lot of snow. “It gets to be the consistency of really strong Styrofoam once you get down, maybe six or eight feet,” glaciologist Louis Sass says as he flings pristine snow out of a growing hole in the glacier.
“It may be a tough job, but it comes with a stunning view. The white glacier sprawls out around Sass, who has spent years researching the Eklutna glacier. It looks a little like a huge lake, covered by a giant, fluffy marshmallow and rimmed with sharp peaks.
“Mike Loso, who leads the project, says workers at the water-treatment plant brag that they have the best job in the world. “If you look around, you understand why,” Loso says. “The guys here just have to turn this into drinking water; they just have to figure out how not to screw it up.”
“The students determined that the Eklutna glacier has been shrinking rapidly since the 1950s. The Anchorage utilities are in good shape now because the glacier is actually supplying extra water as it melts, and that should last for at least the next few decades.”
Read more: NPR