The Glacier Photograph Collection is an online, searchable collection of photographs of glaciers, mostly taken in the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Greenland. Photographs were taken from the ground, air, and space. The dates of the photographs range from the mid 1800s to the present day. However, the collection does include a smaller number of photos of glaciers in Europe, South America, the Himalayas, and Antarctica. As of August 2021, more than 25,000 glacier photographs are in the database. These photographs constitute an important historical record, as well as a data collection of interest to those studying the response of glaciers to climate change.
Search the Glacier Photograph Collection
You can search the Glacier Photograph Collection by glacier name, location, date, photographer, and more from the Search & Order interface. You can view lower-resolution photographs online and order high-resolution photographs from the interface.
The Glacier Photograph Collection also includes interesting subsets of photographs, highlighted as Special Collections as described below.
Repeat Photography of Glaciers
This special collection displays photographs of the same glacier, taken from the same vantage point and at the same time of year, but taken many years apart. These photographs can show evidence of glacier and climate changes over time.
Repeat photography can reveal dramatic changes in the glacier terminus position,
as a glacier either advances or retreats. Most glaciers around the
world have retreated at unprecedented rates over the last century.
These pairs of photographs can provide striking visual evidence of
To access the photos, see the Search & Order interface. For more information about the Repeat Photography of Glaciers special collection, see the section on Repeat Photography of Glaciers in the documentation.
DAHLI IGY Glacier Photographs
This special collection is from Alaskan glacier surveys led by William O. Field during the International Geophysical Year.
The Discovery and Access of Historic Literature from the IPYs (DAHLI) (now called the International Polar Year Historical Data and Literature collection) seeks to locate, identify, preserve, catalog, and digitize data,
literature, photographs and other materials from the first three
IPY events: 1882-1883, 1932-1933, and 1957-1958 (IGY).
To access the photos, see the Search & Order interface.
Astronaut Glacier Photographs
This special collection was taken by astronauts on the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
These photos were taken between 1994 and the beginning of 2010. The photos were collected in collaboration with the The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth project. The goal is to make these photos more widely available and discoverable. To see the photos, go to the Search & Order Interface.
Antarctica Dry Valleys Glacier Photographs
This special collection consists of field photographs from the McMurdo Dry Valleys region of Antarctica.
While the valleys themselves are notably ice-free, a number of glaciers terminate in the valleys, some acting as outlets to the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Studies show that the majority of the glaciers in this area are receding. Glaciers were photographed in the course of geologic studies and help document the conditions of the glaciers and how they may have changed. These photos are held by the Data Conservancy at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) under the direction of Keith Kaneda. To see the photos, go to the Search & Order Interface.
WGMS Glacier Photographs
This special collection focuses on photographs of glaciers for which long fluctuation series are available, some of them dating back to the 18th century.
The photos were collected by the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), who compile and disseminate standardized observations on glacier fluctuations such as length, area, volume, and mass. The photos were assembled from the WGMS archive, from contributions from WGMS principal investigators, and from various other sources that provide freely available data. The main sources include the WGMS Fluctuations of Glaciers (FoG) database, the archive of Bavarian Glaciers, the Glaciers Online collection prepared by Jürg Alean and Michael Hambrey, photos from the Interactive Repeat Photo Comparisons of Various Swiss Glaciers project conducted by Simon Oberli, the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network, and work shared by researchers and students associated with the WGMS. Additionally, photographers who freely share their work on platforms such as Flickr Creative Commons and Wikimedia Commons contributed significantly to this collection. To view this collection, go to the Search & Order Interface.
National Park Service Glacier Survey Reports
This special collection highlights glacier photographs taken from original National Park Service (NPS) Glacier Survey reports.
Currently in the collection are reports from Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) produced between 1932 and 1952. To access these reports, see the National Park Service Glacier Survey Reports section of the Glacier Photograph Collection user guide that provides links to PDF files of the original reports.
The glacier photographs in the reports are also included, individually, in our Glacier Photograph Collection database. To access these high-resolution images, see the Search & Order interface.
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve Glacier Photograph Collection
This collection of 1173 photographs of glaciers in and around the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in Alaska was compiled by Jacob Zanon while he was a Natural Resource Specialist Intern in the GeoSpatial Services Department at Saint Mary's University, MN.
The collection is comprised of many images of glaciers inside the park and preserve taken from both the air and the ground from 1987 through 1990 and in 2004 and 2007. To view this collection, go to the Search & Order Interface.
Kenai Fjords National Park Coastal Glacier Repeat Photography Collection
This collection of photos is part of an ongoing repeat photography project documenting coastal glacier change in Kenai Fjords National Park in southcentral Alaska.
The collection currently consists of 77 photo sets including 281 photos of 40 individual glaciers or glacier groups. This collection documents the current but ephemeral state of the park’s changing glaciers and provides a historical record for all. To view this collection, go to the Search & Order Interface.
Citing these data
Each image in the digital GPC has its own citation. To cite individual photographs, please use the following citation:
Photographer's name. Year photograph was taken. Name of glacier: From the Glacier Photograph Collection. Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center. Digital media.
If using many images, the user may simply cite the entire collection:
National Snow and Ice Data Center (comp.). 2002, updated 2019. Glacier Photograph Collection, Version 1. [Indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NSIDC: National Snow and Ice Data Center. doi: https://doi.org/10.7265/N5/NSIDC-GPC-2009-12. [Date Accessed].