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The glaciers of Glacier National Park are melting at alarming rates and the USGS wants volunteers to help document their retreat. By taking geotagged photos at the exact same places as photographers in history you can help scientists and the public understand more about the rate in which the glaciers recede.

Download USGS’s Repeat Photography Protocol PDF

Planning your Trip

First you will need to figure out historical photo you are going to try to recapture. Historical photos from the USGS are attached to the bottom of this page and above each photo there is a link to each glacier on Natural Atlas where you can browse the Natural Atlas Topo to begin planning what trails you will take to get to there.

Photos must be taken from late-August to mid-October (seasonal snow must be melted)

– To camp in the backcountry of Glacier National Park you will need a permit: Read up on the NPS website. Browse Backcountry Campsites in Glacier National Park on Natural Atlas.

– Print the historical photo beforehand to use as reference in the field.

Taking the Right Glacier Shot

To be considered for the USGS Repeat Photography Project a photo must be paired with a GPS coordinate that lets them know where the photo was taken. The Natural Atlas iOS app makes this super simple. If you don’t have an iPhone or would rather use another form of GPS-enabled camera, that works also. To learn more about recording notes with the mobile app read here.

Navigate to the general location of the photo by using the map or waypoints provided on the images. The waypoints associated with each historic image may be used to position yourself in roughly the same location as the historic photographer. The waypoints will only guide you to the approximate location. By moving around the landscape in this region, and by using permanent landscape features, you can hone in on the exact position of the original photographer. Matching the lines of intersection along the horizon’s ridges and peaks will aid in alignment of the photo. Some photos have semi-permanent foreground features like rocks or vegetation patches that can also be helpful. Finding the correct alignment of features can take a while and sometimes requires moving up or down, or forward/backward on a slope. Move about and keep checking alignment of features. Look for obvious flat spots that the original photographer might have used.

USGS Repeat Photography Protocol

How to Submit Your Photos

Once you have taken a photo that lines up with one of the historical photos below, you can share it with USGS by contacting Lisa McKeon who is a physical scientist at the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center.

In order to for the photo to be considered you must agree to make the photo Public Domain by signing and emailing the following agreement to Lisa.

Download USGS Copyright Dedication Agreement

Lisa McKeon: Lisa_McKeon@usgs.gov (406) 888-7924

Ahern Glacier

Ahern Glacier has diminished in area by 13% from 1966 to 2015.

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Blackfoot Glacier

Blackfoot Glacier has diminished in area by 18% from 1966 to 2015.

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Chaney Glacier

Chaney Glacier has diminished in area by 41% from 1966 to 2015.

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Harrison Glacier

Harrison Glacier has diminished in area by 19% from 1966 to 2015.

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Ipasha Glacier

Ipasha Glacier has diminished in area by 41% from 1966 to 2015.

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Jackson Glacier

Jackson Glacier has diminished in area by 41% from 1966 to 2015.

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Old Sun Glacier

Old Sun Glacier has diminished in area by 19% from 1966 to 2015.

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Shepard Glacier

Former Glacier Beneath Cathedral Peak

Shepard Glacier has diminished in area by 72% from 1966 to 2015.

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Two Ocean Glacier

Two Ocean Glacier has diminished in area by 82% from 1966 to 2015.

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Vulture Glacier

Vulture Glacier has diminished in area by 27% from 1966 to 2015.

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