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Blue Glacier

Map of Blue Glacier
Description
The Blue Glacier field station was established in 1957, and an almost continuous record of the mass balance of the glacier exists since then.
Location
Blue Glacier, Mt. Olympus, Olympic National Park.
Contact
Howard Conway, Research Professor, Earth and Space Sciences, 206-685-8085, conway@ess.washington.edu
Acreage
Approximately 10 acres.
Buildings
Main building and one outbuilding.
Equipment
Propane supply for heat and cooking, seismic recorder that is part of the UW's seismic network.
Housing
Minimal accommodation for up to 4 researchers.
Owner
Special Use Permit from National Park, renewed annually.
Support
N/A.
Recent Usage
Research: Mass balance studies of Blue Glacier and other glaciological studies. Typically a joint maintenance and research visit of about one week is made each year.  The seismic record is approximately 20 years long and fills an otherwise conspicuous gap in the seismic network for the state. Current research is directed toward maintaining the mass balance record and retrieving marker stakes from previous studies. Past research has included radiation balance, the energy budget, mountain weather, air chemistry, migration of particles through snow, cloud physics, and comparative glacier studies. The site has potential for monitoring trace gases and pollutants above the marine inversion layer, complementing Cheeka Peak, which samples air below the inversion. Instruction: No formal classes, although a few glaciology students visit the site  for practical experience.
Non-UW: Occasionally of use to National Park Service in assisting injured climbers, hikers.
 
Usage Fee
Maintenance expenses as needed.
Condition
Fair. It was refurbished in the mid 90's, but routine maintenance is difficult.
Communication
Two-way radio to National Park Ranger Station near Forks.
Access
By foot (20-25 mi.). Helicopter transport of personnel is allowed only in emergencies. Equipment may be transported by helicopter only in non-summer months.
Unique Environment
One of only a few permanent research stations alongside a glacier in the world (under current rules, permission for such a station would not be granted). It is in a designated wilderness area, so there are restrictions on activities.
Faculty/Staff
H. Conway, Geophysics; Steve Warren, T. Grenfell, Atmospheric Sciences.