Brintnell-Bologna Icefield, NWT

Location and Physical Characteristics

  • Located within the Nahanni National Park Reserve at 62°06'N, 127°00'W, roughly 350 km west of Fort Simpson, NWT;
  • Brintnell-Bologna Icefield is a headwater icefield feeding two distinct outlet glaciers, and is about 30 km2 in area;
  • Elevations range from 1,770 m to 2,450 m a.s.l.;
  • The high peaks of the Ragged Range intercept Pacific moisture; heavy snowfalls and cold year-round temperatures at high elevations maintain several large icefields and hundreds of smaller mountain glaciers;
  • Mean annual temperature at nearby Tungsten (1,143 m) is -4.5 °C, and is estimated as -11 °C on the icefield plateau region;
  • Drainage is to the South Nahanni and Flat Rivers, feeding into the Liard River, and ultimately Mackenzie River. 


  • Glaciological investigations in the Ragged Range were initiated jointly between the Geological Survey of Canada (Natural Resources Canada) and Parks Canada Agency in 1995;
  • A glacier inventory was developed for the Ragged Range recently as part of a broader effort to expand the boundaries of Nahanni National Park Reserve;
  • The site is a focal part of ongoing glacier-climate observations as one of the reference sites of Natural Resources Canada's Cryosphere Geoscience Observatory (part of the State and Evolution of Canada's Glaciers project)

Current Science Focus and Instrumentation

  • Efforts focused on documentation of morphometric change of glaciers in the South Nahanni and Flat River headwaters above Virginia Falls, NWT, in relation to hydrometric and climatic variations;
  • Investigation of the seasonal evolution of river short-timescale variability and fingerprinting of regime shifts/tipping points in relation to changing spatial and temporal character of glacier storage;
  • Water sampling and isotopic analyses to fingerprint glacier meltwater inputs in South Nahanni River and in glacier/nival tributary streams;
  • Seasonal mass balance measurement on Brintnell Glacier;
  • Two meteorological stations are in operation (on and off-ice at similar elevation); these were installed in August 2014.
  • Several nearby Meteorological Service of Canada observing stations and Water Survey of Canada discharge measurements at South Nahanni River above Virginia Falls and Flat River near the Mouth.