Today I was up at 5:30AM to try to complete the work I attempted yesterday. Jason and Joey were up earlier, getting ready to complete the drilling they started yesterday too. After shuttling them up to the upper cirque, I headed down the terminus with a load of science gear and food, trying to take advantage of the crystal clear skies for my 50 year repeat photo of the terminus. The clear night had hardened the snow, but also made the ice surface slick. So slick in fact that I had to drop off the sled before the last hill because the ice provided no traction for the sled and made it tend to try to get in front of the snow machine. On the way to the photo site I took a few quick panoramas of the stream and aufeis, while the terminus was still in the shade of the early morning. I had forgotten how awful the hike to the photo site was – large loose rocks for a few thousand feet of elevation gain. By the time I arrived at the site, the sun was high enough that the ice was now all in sun, but it was also generating clouds which drifted in front of it, which made panoramic photography impossible. By this point it was after 10AM. I hung out for a few hours, and just about the time I thought I was shut down for the day, the cloud formation slowed down and I was able to start taking photos. In the end I was able to get exactly the photos I wanted, which was a major relief. Nearly fifty years to the day, I was able to repeat one of Austin’s photos and update a photographic pair that has become an icon of climate change in the arctic since I took the first repeat in 2003. With the resolution of this new photo, someone in the future will be able to repeat it and see not only coarse-scale terminus retreat, but examine individual rocks throughout the valley and determine erosion rates and other geomorphic processes at unprecedented detail. I had been looking forward to taking this photo for 5 years, and I felt a great sense of relief at having accomplished it successfully.
(Click on the panorama and drag to look around, press Shift to zoom in, Command (Mac) or Control (PC) to zoom out.) Enlarge this panorama
This photo pair has been reproduced widely. I took the 2003 shot with a 4 megapixel point and shoot camera that fit easily into my pants pocket. Now my camera gear weighs 15 pounds, but the resolution is 1000 times higher.
Maybe if I take pictures like these someone will give me free gear.
Even way at the top of this rocky mountain, pretty flowers eek out an existence.
More flower photos from the trip back down the mountain. For some reason they seem to prefer the most dangerous places to stand.
By the time I returned back to camp, the others had broken down our large cook tent and were making final preparations to leave. We decided to hold off moving for another day, as it was already getting late and there were still a lot of little things to take care of. This was fine with me, as I was beat. On the way back, I got the snowmachine stuck in a slush swamp, and this took quite a lot of effort to beef it out and get moving again. I had to abandon the sled as the drag it created is what got me stuck, hoping that another clear night would harden the snow such that I could retrieve it. We enjoyed a nice dinner outside in the sun as we continued packing, and after a few hours of downloading and backing up the 20GB of photos I had just taken, I fell asleep instantly, glad that I had just crossed off a major item on my list.
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Wednesday, 25 June 2008 04:20
Day 64: Impacts of 50 years of climate change on the terminusWritten by Matt Nolan
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