From: LaGanga, Maria [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2015 01:31 PM
To: Allen, Jessica L. EOP
Cc: McPhail, Taylor M. EOP
Subject: Travel Pool Report #6 9-1-15
Deborah Kuntz, the physical science program manager for Kenai Fjords National Forest, said that what POTUS walked through on the gravel trail to the glacier was a landscape particular to the path of a glacier's retreat.
"As the glacier retreats," Kuntz said in an interview while hiking, "it leaves behind bare ground, rock and no vegetation. So the lichen come in first....Toward the glacier you see more bare ground. You don't see spruce forest, but in time there will be one."
The glacier is in the Kenai Mountains, she said, but the individual peaks have no names. "There are so many mountains and glaciers in Alaska that we can't name them all."
Dressed in typical ranger khaki (though she is NOT a ranger) and flat Smokey the Bear type hat, Kuntz said she is thrilled that the president chose to visit this national park outside of Seward.
"It's an honor for the National Park Service," she said, "the community of Seward and the state of Alaska. We're very excited."
The glacier was at its maximum size in 1815. Since the 1950s its shrinkage has been measured using aerial photography. In the last eight years GPS has been used. POTUS was speaking near the 1951 marker.
At the outlook where POTUS stopped and spoke, she described what he was seeing.
"We are looking at Exit Glacier and an outwash plain," she said. "Exit Glacier is two miles long. It flows off of Harding Icefield. It has been retreating for around 200 years."
In 2014, she said, it lost 187 feet. Since she arrived at Kenai in 2008, it has retreated more than 800 feet. Since 1815 it has retreated 1.25 miles.
"Climate is the primary driver of ice loss," she said, adding that Harding Icefield is 10% smaller than it was in 1950. She called what has been seen in recent years an "unprecedented rate of warming."
After POTUS stopped talking, he hiked farther into the national park, where he was filming with Bear Grylls.
This from Monday's pool report:
FROM JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS: On board before departure, your pool learned that President Obama will be shooting a segment Tuesday with Bear Grylls, the survivalist whose
show "Running Wild With Bear Grylls" airs on NBC. A release from NBC says POTUS will trek through the wilderness with Grylls and "receive a crash course in survival techniques" from him.
Maria L. La Ganga
Seattle Bureau Chief
Los Angeles Times