Academics and Research

Our Classroom

Our classroom is the Juneau Icefield, situated in the Coast Mountains of the Tongass National Forest and Atlin Provincial Park.  This natural setting serves as educator, inspiration, and host for our summer program.  Students, staff and faculty traverse this terrain, conduct research, participate in a curriculum of lectures and research projects, and live in this amazing landscape.

The Juneau Icefield covers an area the size of Rhode Island, and includes some 50 outlet glaciers. The icefield straddles the Coast Mountains and owes its presence to the predominantly cool, wet maritime climate. 

While crossing the Juneau Icefield, students traverse the Ptarmigan, Lemon Creek, Norris, Taku, and Llewellyn glacier systems.  One to two-day journeys lead us from one established camp to another, which we use as bases for expeditions to more remote corners of the icefield and for in-camp lectures and activities.


There are 11 permanent field stations and a dozen temporary camps on the Juneau Icefield and its peripheral areas, covering a wilderness region of 5,000 square miles about half of which is ice covered. Wood-framed buildings exist at the main research stations, while tents are used at trail camps. Communications with Juneau and Atlin and between camps are handled by FM radios and/or satellite phone. Ground transport is on foot or on skis. Helicopters are used for air logistical support. All members take their turns with camp chores, from cooking, to radio duty, weather observations, and repair work.  

Facilities Use

The Juneau Icefield Research Program invites researchers and educators interested in using FGER’s icefield facilities to contact Executive Director, Erin Whitney at or



Our Accomplishments

For over 60 years, The Juneau Icefield Research Program has maintained the longest running study of any glacier in the Western Hemisphere. Such comprehensive and continuous studies are rare yet crucial to our understanding of past and present climate change.

Over 1,000 reports and publications have come from research conducted with JIRP or with the assistance of FGER. In addition, some 70 M.S. and Ph.D. dissertations have resulted. JIRP seeks to conduct the highest quality research, collect the most reliable data, and cooperate with academic institutions and leaders of the scientific community.

Nearly 2,000 individuals, including students and professionals, have participated in the Juneau Icefield Research Program. JIRP is unique in that it conducts significant research in an expeditionary environment while seeking to train and inspire new scientists by including active student participation.

Participants of JIRP and members of FGER have established over 30 camps on the Juneau Icefield, some of which are permanent camps that survive each harsh winter and which are maintained by JIRP participants.