Using Time-Lapse Photography to See the Movement of Massive Glaciers

People sometimes use the expression “slow as a glacier” to describe something so stagnant that even the speeds of snails and molasses would feel inadequately fast in comparison. The fastest glaciers ever measured move at tens of meters per day, while the slowest ones may budge only have a meter over the course of a year. Most of the time, the movement is too slow for the human eye to see.

Luckily for us, there’s something called time-lapse photography. Back in 2004, PBS aired a NOVA episode titled Descent into the Ice, which followed photographers and adventurers as they ventured deep into the heart of a glacier found on Mont Blanc. One of the things they did was set up cameras to capture the movement of glaciers over extremely long periods of time. The video above shows 5 months of movement seen under a glacier moving 2 feet per day.

They also shot a similar time-lapse from above ground. This next video was shot using a camera fixed 650 feet away from the glacier, and shows the glacier sliding down the mountain over the course of one entire year:

As we shared earlier this year, National Geographic photographer James Balog did a similar project less than a decade later by placing 27 Nikon D200 DSLRs at 18 glaciers around the world, snapping 8000 frames with each camera per year.

(via PBS via Reddit)