Glacier pictures are some of the most sought-after opportunities for nature and travel photographers.
Extreme photographers will travel across the world to capture the perfect image of ice and snow.
Unfortunately, climate change and global warming are causing these massive ice shelves to retreat or simply break apart. So, if taking the perfect glacier picture has been on your bucket list, you may need to act fast or you might miss out on some of the most popular locations.
The Best Places to Take Pictures of Glaciers
There are dozens of prime locations around the world where you’ll still find stunning images of glaciers. We’ve put together a list of locations that are fairly easily accessible (that leaves out Greenland and Antarctica, the two locations on Earth with the largest ice shelves) and provide magnificent opportunities for you to take glacier pictures.
Here are four unique spots where you can take pictures of glaciers – for now.
1. Glacier National Park
Easily the most accessible location for people living the United States, Glacier National Park is located in northern Montana. The peaks and valleys throughout the area were carved by glaciers over millions of years, and the park offers trails that provide you with optimal photographic locations to capture nature’s beauty.
Several dozen glaciers remain in the national park, but they are shrinking. Scientists say the glaciers have lost about 85 percent of their size over the past 50 years. The glaciers in the park have been around for 7,000 years, but could be gone in just a few decades.
Iceland is one of the world’s most trendy vacation spots and also one of the top locations for photographers looking for the perfect picture of a glacier.
Vatnajokull glacier is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. It is a photographer’s dream, featuring ice caves, glacial lakes and ice beaches. Portions of the glacier were also used as backdrops for Hollywood movies.
Like everywhere else in the world, the glaciers in Iceland are melting – just not as quickly. 11 percent of the island is still covered in ice, and it’s expected to take 500 years for it all to melt.
3. The Alps
Glaciers in the Alps can provide some of the best opportunities for glacier pictures.
In addition to the large ice caps found throughout the region, most notably in France and Switzerland, the Alps also provide a great illustration of how glaciers can shape the landscape around them. For instance, the Matterhorn in Switzerland is known for its sharp, jagged peak. It was formed by several cirque glaciers eroding the sides of the mountain, leaving behind the steep summit.
The glaciers in the Alps are also retreating at a rapid pace due to climate change. Since 1850, Switzerland has lost half of its ice cover, and researchers say in just one year the country loses about one cubic kilometer in ice volume.
Thousands of tourists visit Patagonia, along the Argentina and Chile border at the tip of South America, each year to photograph and explore the area’s glaciers.
One of the most popular locations to view the glaciers is Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park. Here you’ll find 356 glaciers covering more than a million acres. Photographers will have their pick of glacier picture opportunities in a variety of settings, including mountains, lakes, and woods.
Unfortunately, the natural beauty of this region is also receding at an alarming rate. A recent study of the glaciers in the region found that nearly all of them had receded since 1870, and the rate at which they are shrinking is increasing. Researchers discovered the glaciers melted twice as rapidly from 2001 to 2011 as they had in more than a hundred years prior to that.
What Pictures of Glaciers Tell Us About Climate Change
Glacier pictures of the shrinking ice provide some of the most startling evidence of climate change.
By using these before and after photos, scientists are able to track glacial retreat to determine how much a specific glacier has receded and make predictions about when it will disappear.
Aside from reducing the picturesque scenery of these areas, melting glaciers can harm their surrounding ecosystems. When glaciers retreat and winter temperatures are not cold enough for the ice to advance back to its normal point, communities that depend on the annual melting ice for their water supply are at risk of their supply running out.
Fortunately, the world is becoming more aware of the impacts of climate change and steps are being taken to stop global warming.
Only time will tell if it will be enough.