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Photography as a Tool for Studying Climate Change

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avatar Photography as a Tool for Studying Climate Change
March 16, 2010 04:13PM
Lunchtime Lecture: Photography as a Tool for Studying Climate Change
Date: March 16, 2010
Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406-888-5838

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – On Monday, March 22, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researcher Lisa McKeon will discuss the various types of photography used in climate change research as well as the far-reaching impacts of the USGS Repeat Photography Project at Glacier National Park. This lunchtime seminar will be held at the park’s Community Building in West Glacier from noon to 12:45 p.m.

Climate change research at Glacier National Park began in the early 1990s and entails many methods of documenting changes on the landscape, including the decline of the park’s glaciers. Scientists employ the use of repeat photography along with the assessment of aerial and oblique photography as tools to document and communicate the effects of climate change on park resources.

A USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center (NRMSC) employee working under the leadership of Research Ecologist Daniel Fagre, PhD, McKeon has served as a physical scientist for the USGS Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems (CCME) program since 1997. During her first summer at Glacier, CCME initiated the USGS Repeat Photography Project. These repeat images have become an integral part of climate studies at the park and have garnered worldwide attention as visual icons of climate change.

Responding to the demand for repeat photographs of the receding glaciers, McKeon created a website (http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/repeatphoto/overview.htm) that allows the public to download images for their own use and has created an exhibit of repeat photography that is touring art museums in Montana. According to McKeon, the diverse uses to which these photos have lent themselves have surprised her as much as the rate at which she has seen glacial retreat over her own lifetime.

The CCME scientists have also been using aerial and oblique photography to assess glacier and landscape change. McKeon has recently been trained to use GigaPan Photography as a new tool. With both qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis available to them through various types of photography, the CCME scientists are documenting climate change as it happens in the park.

McKeon was born and raised in Kalispell and graduated from the University of Washington (1991) with a bachelor’s degree in biology. McKeon and her husband, Brian, make their home in West Glacier where they enjoy the beauty and wildness of Glacier National Park with their two young daughters.

These lunchtime Brown Bag lectures are made available by Glacier National Park’s Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center: http://www.nps.gov/glac/naturescience/ccrlc.htm.
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