Late Holocene Glaciation of
The Wrangell Mountains, Alaska

Wrangell Mountains


The purpose of this work was to reconstruct the late Holocene glacial history for the Wrangell Mountains, Alaska. The dating methods used included dendrochronology, lichenometry and radiocarbon analyses. Based on the records from nine glaciers we have been able to recognize four intervals of late Holocene glacier advance. The oldest glacial advance is recognized at the Nabesna and Barnard Glaciers where five radiocarbon ages suggest advance as early as 3000 cal. yr. BP. Two additional radiocarbon dated advances are centered on cal yr. AD 300 and the beginning of the Little Ice Age about AD 1200. The best documented Little Ice Age advances occurred during the mid 1600s through the 1800s and are recognized at all nine glaciers. These latter advances are constrained by tree-ring dates on trees overrun by glaciers in five glacier forefields, by seventeen radiocarbon dates and by tree-ring and lichen ages from 20 moraines that were deposited during the culmination of these advances. The glacial chronology is broadly similar to those from adjoining Alaskan mountain ranges, both at coastal and interior sites for the past 3000 years. There are, however, differences in the timing of advances during the first millennium AD. The glacial history for the past two thousand years is also consistent with temperature sensitive proxy records from interior Alaska and the Yukon Territory.

Publications (includes geomorphic and tree-ring studies):

Jacoby, G.C., Davi, N., Wiles, GC., and others. Tree-ring based climatic records of the Wrangell-St. Elias regions of Alaska (ms in prep.)

Wiles, G.C., Jacoby, G.C., Davi, N., and McAllister, R.,, Eolian response to short-term climate change, Tana Dunes, Alaska 9ms in prep.)

Wiles, G.C., Jacoby, G.C., Davi, N., and McAllister, R., in review, Late Holocene glacial
fluctuations in the Wrangell Mountains, Alaska: GSA Bulletin.

Howe, G.T, and Wiles, G.C., 2001, The story in the rings: Ohio Woodland Journal, v.8, p. 16-18.

Calkin, P.E., Wiles, G.C., and Barclay, D.J., 2001, Holocene coastal glaciation of Alaska:
Quaternary Science Reviews, 20, p. 449-461.

D'Arrigo, R.D., C.M. Malmstrom, G.C. Jacoby, S.O. Los & D.E. Bunker, 2000. Correlation
between maximum latewood density of annual tree rings and NDVI based estimates of
forest productivity, International Journal of Remote Sensing, 21 (11) 2329-2336.

D'Arrigo, R.D., G.C. Jacoby, M. Free, and A. Robock, 1999. Northern Hemisphere
temperature variability for the past three centuries: tree-ring and model estimates.
Climatic Change 42, 663-675.

Jacoby, G.C., R.D. D'Arrigo, and G. Juday, 1999. Tree-ring indicators of climatic change at
northern latitudes, World Resources Review 11 (1) 21-29.

Presentations and Abstracts:

Wiles, G. C., Calkin, P. E. and Barclay, D. J., 2001, The last thousand years of glaciation in
Alaska: a temperature record: GeologicalSociety of America Abstracts with Programs Vol.
33, No. 6.

Davi, N., G. Jacoby, G. Wiles, R. McAllister and Skelly, S.J., 2000, Dendroclimatic
evidence for environmental change from Wrangell Mountains of Alaska: International
Conference on Dendrochronology for the Third Millennium 2-7 April 2000, Mendoza,
Argentina, p. 120.

Jacoby, G.C., 2000. Global Change as Evidenced by Tree-Ring Studies, G.C. Jacoby,
Chairman and Keynote Speaker of Session on Global Change, International Conference on
Dendrochronology for the Third Millennium, Mendoza, Argentina, 2-7 April 2000,
Mendoza, Argentina.

McAllister, R., Wiles, G.C., Davi, N., and Jacoby, G.C., 2000, Dendrogeomorphology of
the Tana Dunes, Alaska: Geological Society ofAmerica Abstracts with Programs,
Northcentral Meeting, Indianapolis, IN.

Wiles, G.C., McAllister, R.P., Skelly, S.J., Jacoby, G.C. and Davi, N., 2000, Tree-ring dated
Little Ice Age glacier histories and regional comparisons, Wrangell Mountains, Alaska,
USA: International Conference on Dendrochronology for the Third Millennium, 2-7 April
2000, Mendoza Argentina, p. 182.

G.C. Jacoby, R.D. D'Arrigo, G.C. Wiles, 1999, Half a Century of Tree-Ring Research in Alaska: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1999 Arctic Science Conference, 19-22 September, Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

Wiles, G. C. and Jacoby, G. C., 1999, Neoglaciation of the Wrangell Mountains,
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska: Geological Society of America
Abstracts with Programs, National Meeting, Boulder, CO., v. 31.

Wiles, G.C., Villalba, R., Barclay, D.J. and Calkin, P.E., 1998, The Last millennium of
ocean-atmosphere variations along the western coast of the Americas inferred from
tree-ring and glacier records: American Quaternary Association, invited keynote talk and
abstract, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 5-7 September 1998, p. 71-73.

Wiles, G.C., 1998, Tree-ring and glacial records of North Pacific Climate Variation:
American Association for the Advancement of Science, The 49th Arctic Division Science
Conference, invited keynote talk and abstract, Fairbanks, Alaska, 25-28 October 1998, p.

Calkin, P.E., Barclay, D.J., and Wiles, G.C., 1998, Holocene coastal glaciation, Alaska:
Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, National Meeting, Toronto, v. 30.

Undergraduate Thesis:

Skelly, Sarah J., 1999, A late Holocene chronology for the Nizina Glacier, Wrangell Mountains, Alaska: undergraduate thesis, The College of Wooster, 47p.

McAllister, R.P., 2000, Dendrogeomorphology and recent history of the Tana Dunes, South Central, Alaska: undergraduate thesis, The College of Wooster, 81p.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 9709095.Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

We Thank Danny Rosenkrans of the National Park Service for his help with logistics and for sharing his extensive knowledge of the area. In addition, this work benefited from the flying skill and Wrangell Mountain experience of Gary Green, McCarthy Air.