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Tourism in Alaska is being affected by the changing landscape of glaciers


Alaska's capital, Juneau, is normally crammed with tourists who come to see those magnificent glaciers. But this week, glacier melt caused by climbing temperatures brought flooding to the city and made Alaskans wonder if their big tourist attraction might be under threat.


Brendan Ryan runs glacier hikes and tours in Seward, Alaska.

BRENDAN RYAN: Every glacier that we operate on has become thinner, much shorter, and sometimes a lot steeper.

INSKEEP: He's been a tour operator for two decades, which is long enough to see the landscape transformed.

RYAN: One of the glaciers that we operate on with our helicopter - it's changed so much in the last 13 years that when we wrap around the corner in the helicopter and there's this big reveal - you're over this huge Alpine valley with this massive glacial face falling down a hill, which we call an icefall - that used to be an icefall that turned into this really big tongue of ice. And all of that is gone now. It's a standing lake.

MCCAMMON: Ryan's company provides glacier hikes, one of the most popular services, but he doesn't think he'll be able to offer them much longer.

RYAN: That whole part of the business, I think, will be gone soon.

INSKEEP: So his company has branched out to water-based recreation, like kayaking or paddle boarding. And to those who have hike a glacier on their bucket list, he offers this advice - act soon.

RYAN: If you push it off for 5 or 6 years, that thing that you were thinking about doing either might not be there anymore, or it might be an entirely different experience. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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