Ice Distribution and Winter Surface Circulation Patterns, Kachemak Bay, Alaska,
COLD REGIONS RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING LAB HANOVER NH
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Development of the hydropower potential of Bradley Lake, Alaska, would nearly double winter freshwater discharge from the Bradley River into upper Kachemak Bay, and the Corps of Engineers is concerned about possible subsequent increased ice formation and related ice-induced problems. The objectives of this investigation were to describe winter surface circulation in the bay and document ice distribution patterns for predicting where additional ice might be transported if it forms. Fifty-one Landsat MSS band 5 and 7 and RBV images with 70 cloud cover or less, taken between 1 November and 30 April each year, were analyzed for the eight winters from 1972 to 1980 with standard photointerpretation techniques. Results of this analysis showed that glacial sediment discharged into Kachemak Bay acts as a natural tracer in the water. Inner Kachemak Bay circulation in the winter is predominantly counterclockwise, with northeasterly nearshore currents along the south shore and southwesterly nearshore currents along the north shore. Most of the ice in the inner bay forms at its northeast end and is discharged by the Fox, Sheep and Bradley Rivers. Some ice becomes shorefast on the tidal flats at the head of the bay, while some moves southwestward along the north shore pushed by winds and currents. When this ice reaches Coal Bay, it accumulates between Homer Spit and the north shore. This buildup extended out to Coal Point at the tip of Homer Spit in February 1976 and 1979 ice was not observed in the nearshore zone along the south shore of the inner bay.
- Physical and Dynamic Oceanography
- Snow, Ice and Permafrost