American, 1950-2016 & Canadian, 1890-1962
Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park, 2005, color photograph and 1917, black and white photograph, National Archives of Canada
In 2000, Gary Braasch began a worldwide expedition to photograph glaciers and other ecosystems negatively impacted by climate change. Throughout his journeys, the artist accompanied scientists to their research sites. He took photographs to compare with historical views of the same subject, as in Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park. They are included in his pioneering book, Earth under Fire: How Global Warming is Changing the World (2007), which contains essays by Sylvia Earle, Thomas Lovejoy and Bill McKibben, among others.
Braasch’s photograph and Arthur Oliver Wheeler’s image, captured during Wheeler’s 1917 survey of the region, confirm the scientific data that Athabasca Glacier has lost half its volume and retreated almost a mile (1.5 km) since its discovery in 1898. (”The Big Melt Down: Columbia Icefield, Canada,” at http://www.oneonta.edu/faculty/baumanpr/
Wheeler, one of the most prominent land surveyors of western Canada, made photo-topographical surveys of the Selkirk Mountains and the Canadian Rockies along the Continental Divide. In 1906, he and Elizabeth Parker, a journalist, helped establish the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC).
An avid mountaineer, Wheeler was the father of Sir Edward Oliver Wheeler (Canadian, 1890–1962), who participated in the first topographical survey of Mount Everest in 1921. The younger Wheeler’s photograph of the West Rongbuk Glacier (1921) is included on this site.