Founded by acclaimed mountaineer, photographer, and filmmaker David Breashears, GlacierWorks is a non-profit organization that vividly illustrates the changes to Himalayan glaciers through art, science, and adventure. Since 2007, GlacierWorks has undertaken twelve expeditions to document the current state of the glaciers, retracing the steps of pioneering mountain photographers in order to capture new images that precisely match the early photographic records. Over the past five years, they have recorded losses and changes to glaciers that are inaccessible to all but the most skilled climbers.
Gigapixel imagery lies at the heart of the GlacierWorks website and work. A gigapixel is a single, super high-resolution image created from a series of smaller photographs shot in sequence. In the field, our team uses specially designed hardware to capture each frame, as each must overlap the next by a precise amount. We then use software that recognizes the inter-frame overlap and organizes the pictures accordingly. Specialized web-based viewing tools are then used to allow deep zooms and explorations of these massive images.
High-resolution gigapixel photography enables viewers to experience the glaciers as never before: up-close and with extreme precision. Using these online tools, it is possible to soar thousands of feet above a glacier and view it in its entirety or dip down to the ground and explore pebbles in the ice. We believe that this approach will foster a deep understanding of the changes at work in this remote and frozen region.
GlacierWorks’ exhibit “Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya” showcases our contemporary imagery alongside archival photographs taken over the last century by the world’s greatest mountain photographers. These matched pairs of images starkly reveal the changes that have quietly taken place over the last century. “Rivers of Ice” has shown in Copenhagen, prior to the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, as well as at New York’s Asia Society, London’s Royal Geographical Society, and Italy’s Trento Film Festival, the oldest and most respected film festival in Italy. Imagery from “Rivers of Ice” was also showcased at Beijing’s Three Shadows Gallery in late 2011. GlacierWorks’ next exhibition is slated for the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The MIT exhibition will open in April 2012 and run through March 2013.