4 August 2021

#AGURocks: Soon May the Kennicott Thin

Posted by Shane Hanlon

Cameron and Eric walk alongside a supra-glacial stream lined by erratics resting on the glacier’s surface. Credit: Julian Dann

#AGURocks is a series of posts by musicians who create science-inspired music and explain their process and inspiration while also showcasing their pieces. Learn more about contributing. The views and lyrics expressed in this post and song do not reflect those of Sharing Science and AGU. This week, Julian Dann.

We arrived in the small town of McCarthy, Alaska in early June 2021 to quantify the retreat of the Kennicott Glacier just up the valley. As part of a project under direction of Dr. Regine Hock, formerly at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and now at the University of Oslo, we measured glacial melt and installed weather stations on debris-covered ice, bare ice, and high up in the mountains.

The town of McCarthy, surrounded by the largest national park in the US (Wrangell St. Elias National Park), has a small, but friendly, community of abo ut thirty yearlong residents. During the summer, throngs of pedestrian tourists and glacier guides join locals to celebrate the long, sunny days. As part of the celebration, the town often hosts open mic nights at the local pub. Once we learned of this, we began toying with the idea of writing a song about our time on the glacier. During long hikes across treacherous mountains of scree and ice, we had plenty of time to let our creativity flow. On our last field day, we combined our effort into writing this song that has a little bit of science, a little bit of history, and a whole lot of sea shanty.

-Julian Dann is an interdisciplinary graduate student at the University of Alaska’s International Arctic Research Center (UAF-IARC). Eric Petersen is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Glaciers Group at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks. Cameron Markovsky is a glaciology graduate student in the University of Utah’s Geography Department.