Video: Dana Glacier – A Bellwether of Climate Change

The Legacy Project Explores the Retreat of Dana Glacier through Repeat Photography


The Dana Glacier is located inside a northwest facing cirque located east of the 13,061 feet (3,981 m) Mount Dana on the eastern border of Yosemite National Park, California. It is very close to Tioga Pass and Highway 120. The glacier occupies the very steep, shaded western slope of the cirque at around 11,500 to 11,800 feet (3,500–3,600 m), although a part of it reaches up to 12,500 feet (3,800 m). Repeat photography comparing images taken in 1883 with those from 2004 demonstrate that the glacier has retreated substantially in that period.

Video Production: Kit Tyler
Music: Brian Clothier –

  1. Jai Gilchrist II

    It’s very eye-opening to see the changes the glaciers are going through due to the greenhouses. Similar to what the video said if the greenhouse gases continue to be produced at the rate that they are then the glaciers will likely cease to exist. What’s troubling is that the glaciers will not be the only thing that will be affected by the greenhouse gases. If this trend were to continue damage may be done to the earth which may not be reversible.

  2. Anna San

    Due to the ever concerning effects of global warming and increasing greenhouse gases, California is quickly losing an exceptionally beautiful feature, Dana Glacier. It’s unfortunate that breakthroughs in the past century that allows the human race to excel against only itself results in the destruction of natural beauty that does not compete with us. It’s incredible to see how fast these glaciers are disappearing before we could fully realize and appreciate their magnificence as an entire world and work towards preservation. Although there are policies established and in the works to reduce pollution that contributes to greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, as a country, it’s not enough. The time it would take for the whole country or even the whole world to finally come together and work on the reduction of pollution will either be too late or just in time before the glaciers fully disappear. But even then, only a small portion would remain and the rebuilding of those glaciers may be doubtful.

  3. Jordan Buckingham

    There is no doubt that a good portion of individuals are still skeptical about the validity of global warming. Weather this is due to lack of knowledge of the interaction between humans and our global ecosystem or plain ignorance, no one can argue the fact that ice melts if the temperature surrounding it is to hot. We observe this thermodynamic phenomena everyday as ice cubes melt in our room temperature glass of water. Glaciers are the worlds ice cubes, and repeat photography is ecological proof that they are melting over time. I was unaware that this was a method of comparing past and present changes to various ladscapes, but I can see just how valuable it is. Mad the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and there is no denying the fact that Dana Glacier will unfortunately soon be gone.

  4. Andrew Faure

    The Dana Glaciers are a prime example of global warming and the effect of the accumulation of the greenhouse gases we emit into our atmosphere. The past photographs of the glacier showed much more snow cover than what is currently there now. Im curious if anyone has estimated how long it will take until there is no snow left on the Dana Glaciers. It is astonishing how just a few degrees in temperature can drastically influence the characteristics of certain regions on our planet. Transitioning to a more ecological friendly society will certainly help to mitigate the problem, but so much irreversible damage has already been done. Hopefully we can learn to coexist with nature in a way that is less harmful to the environment.

  5. Monique Rodarte

    It is very depressing to see the amount of damage that we have done and how many people are blinded to it. I did not know that it was that bad and that it has cause a dramatic change. It is unfair to be so selfish and not work harder to change this and allow such beautiful things to exist. The photos taken showing the change is breath taking, one cannot tell the full extent until photos are seen. I hope that we are able to slowly return things back to the original or at least close to its original state.

  6. Diana Djalili

    Such a dramatic loss of the glaciers in such a short amount of time is truly startling. There are so many new ways of getting the energy today’s society needs for our lifestyles, and it is infuriating that this is a problem that is increasing instead of decreasing. Repeat photography clearly shows what is happening to the glaciers in the Sierras, and it is a great tool to use for before and after comparisons of the effect of climate change. The scary part is that climate change affects a whole lot more than glaciers. Every ecosystem type on the planet is affected, and all life is influenced by it. Maybe the reason why a lot of people don’t care to act on the issue is because the most dramatic effects to us won’t happen in our lifetime. It’s sad that many people may never get to see a glacier as big as it should be.

  7. Aubrey Carroll

    It is absolutely surprising to see in a real time, real life example the effect the greenhouse gases have on things such as this. The availability of glaciers and resulting increase in sea water has obviously not been enough of an indicator to the public about the seriousness of the greenhouse effect. Although there is a huge awareness of the greenhouse gas effect and its being a potential danger to us as a human population, its not being taken as seriously as need be. The seriousness of this ever increasing epidemic we have spiraled this Earth towards has got to be shared and better emphasized for the public to understand. While the shrinking of the glaciers has been attributed to both natural and human interference, the fact that the human population is not doing much, the huge scheme of things, to lessen their impact on the Earth shows great negligence and lack of concern. Especially considering this particular piece or set of proof, the effect we are having is extensively depleting the Sierra Nevada of glaciers. Many may not know the exact ramifications of this, but how about we or someone with the information better inform everyone who does not know. We all deserve to know what is to become of the Earth if the actions we chose to make no are not rectified. Just a thought or two.

  8. Andrew Fountain estimates that the surface area covered by the remaining glaciers in the Sierra Nevada – around 1,700 of them – has dropped by about 55 percent. Yet it’s important to note that the glaciers of California’s Sierra Nevada have been shrinking for some time due to a warming trend that followed the Little Ice Age (between about 1350 and 1850). Although evidence indicates that the rate of glacial retreat has increased since 1850, when humans began to add large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at the start of the industrial revolution, the shrinking glaciers are likely a combination of both natural and human-caused warming.

  9. Alejandra Aguilar

    It is unfortunate to see how climate warming over time and has affected natural landscapes such as the glaciers. And it is even more unfortunate that we as a human race cannot do anything that will change this. However, by recycling or reducing mankind’s abuse any other way, it will at least improve conditions a bit and give us a few more years. I think repeat photography is an essential tool to observe such changes. It shows us explicitly the change observed in glaciers. But I am interested to know if the majority of the glacier melting is due to fossil fuels or a natural processes. Either way, it is concerning and we should pay more attention to it.

  10. Tyler Sullivan

    Repeat photography is an excellent way of comparing glacier size over time. The obvious dramatic change in size is indicative that we are largely contributing to the melting of them. I noticed the scientist say, “I’m glad to see any glacier” when walking up to the previously photographed spot. It is scary to think that Dana Glacier is one of only about a hundred left. The evidence given leaves no doubt that all of them will be gone within one hundred years. There is clearly a problem. The question now is, what to do next? What is the reconciling step? And how do ecologists spark the interest of the public to get them on board?

  11. Christopher Phan

    Global warming unfortunately is an ongoing biological issue that is affecting the entire ecosystem through increasing temperatures. As a result of increasing temperature, species such as various plants are unable to adjust to global warming and thus their habitat is becoming unstable. Repeat photography is an interesting method for studying the changes of the Dana Glacier conditions by capturing photos from the same viewpoint of a previously documented photo of the same viewpoint from years ago. Comparing the environmental changes that occurred over time between the two photos allows ecologists to study these drastic changes. Hopefully, with more awareness, the damaging effects of global warming can be minimized to preserve the ecosystem.

  12. Eugene Clarke

    It’s estimated that all of the glaciers will disappear within the next century. That’s sad. Science proves that our planet is warming but still people are in denial. Cutting back on our dependency of fossil fuels and the automobile will have a huge impact on greenhouse gases. Utilizing nuclear power, wind mills, solar and geothermal for our energy needs is pertinent. An expansion of public transportation and cheaper hybrids will also help decrease greenhouse gases.

  13. Jennifer Lo

    It is devastating that greenhouse gases are what makes these glaciers become smaller because of the warm temperature. It is also very devastating that we only have about 100 of these glaciers left in the sierra because of greenhouse gases. The repeat photography shows significant changes throughout time due to global warming. I am curious to know if there have been any studies done to prevent these glaciers from melting away and if there are scientists/organizations that are trying to preserve these glaciers. I also think that global warming is a huge problem that we as a whole need to address and try to do something about instead of just acknowledging that it is a problem.

  14. Alyssa Harmon

    I have been blessed with the opportunity to see glaciers multiple times in my life and I find it devastating that in such a short time others will not get to have this experience. Watching videos on climate change reminds me of watching a train crash in slow motion, but despite the profound evidence that the train is indeed crashing, no one wants to believe it.

  15. Kanyeemengtiang Yang

    What I found interesting about this video is the repeat photography. I find it fascinating that by allowing ourselves to look at repeat photography we can visualize the effects of warming on glaciers. Glaciers are important because they allow many organisms to thrive in the ecosystem because they help sustain the water supply. It is very disappointing and frightening that these glaciers are melting. What is even more frightening is that when these glaciers and snow caps melt and wither away, life on Earth will be very difficult to sustain as a whole in the future.

  16. Sonia Khademi

    I find it interesting that the changes to Dana Glacier due to increasing global temperatures are so drastic in such a short timespan. I expected that one would need documentation over a greater period of time, but in only about a century you can already tell how much the glacier is shrinking.

  17. Haleema Wahla

    I believe that we need to control human activity a lot more so than we already do. We don’t do enough to stop global warming because we are still seeing these dramatic changes in nature. Our winters are getting colder, our summers are getting hotter and our natural resources are being depleted because we keep throwing CO2 into the atmosphere. This glacier is a perfect example of how badly earth is reacting to the gases trapped. More people need to see the repeat photographs with the hopes of it being an eye opener.

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