Mendenhall Glacier:  Repeat Photography

Mendenhall Glacier as seen from “Mal’s Photo Point”

“I have fond memories of visiting this spot, just behind the Mendenhall Visitor Center, during my years with the Juneau Icefield Research Program.  Program founder and long-time director Dr. Maynard M. Miller (“Mal”) snapped a photograph from the benchmark at this location each year I visited Mendenhall Glacier with him.”  — Matthew J. Beedle

These four photos were all taken from the rock outcrop behind the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in Juneau, Alaska.  The 1958 image was taken by Marion T. Millett and is archived at, and freely available from, the National snow and Ice Data Center.  The 1985 image, taken by Maynard M. Miller, is used here with written permission.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center Glacier Photograph Collection holds six photos taken by Marrion T. Millet from “Mal’s Photo Point” in 1958.  The 1958 panorama is the result of stitching these six images together.  The gray ‘globe’ in the lower left corner of the 2011 image is the top of a high-precision GPS antenna that is permanently located at this site.

Mendenhall Glacier from Shoreline of Mendenhall Lake

“I found the 1974 image in a box of slides at my parents’ house, taken four years before my birth, when my parents were home in Juneau between semesters at University of Alaska – Fairbanks.  In July 2010 we (my parents, grandmother, and I) tried to access the same photo point, but a stream – swollen by recent rains – would have over-topped our boots. The 2010 photo was taken about 100 meters to the east of where the 1974 image was taken, but the recession of Mendenhall Glacier is still evident.  Often we see images of landscape change, but without some tangible reference to ‘human-time’.  I love the plaid wool pants and sweaters in the earlier image, can hear the water lapping at the edge of Mendenhall Lake, and see the gently rocking iceberg in the latter image; I love the vibrancy of my family in both.  Some things change, others don’t. ”  –Matthew J. Beedle

Mendenhall Glacier from Thunder Mountain

These two photos were taken from roughly the same location on Thunder Mountain. Few repeat photos of glaciers have such a perspective, which affords a dramatic visual of the volume of ice lost.  For a bit of scale, the portion of Nugget Falls (lower right) visible in these images is on the order of 25 meters tall.  The seasonal snow in the 1993 image, unfortunately, hinders any detection of how the smaller glaciers on the surrounding peaks have changed.  Both images were used with permission from Jack Beedle.

Mendenhall Glacier from Photo-Point Benchmark

In 1958 Marrion T. Millet photographed Mendenhall Glacier from a number of locations, including from ‘Mal’s Photo Point’ (above) and from a benchmark just to the left of what is now the short trail to ‘Photo Point’.  The National Snow and Ice Data Center Glacier Photograph Collection holds three photos taken by Marrion T. Millet from this Photo-Point Benchmark in 1958.  The 1958 panorama here is the result of stitching these three images together.


Millett, Marion T. 1958 Mendenhall Glacier: From the Glacier Photograph Collection. Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology. Digital media.