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Geologic Publications for Mount Rainier

Time-lapse photography of glaciers at Mount Rainier National Park

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Author(s): Scott R. Beason, Taylor R. Kenyon

Document Type: Unpublished Resource Article
Publisher: North Coast and Cascades Research Learning Center, National Park Service
Published Year: 2018
Pages: 3
DOI Identifier:
ISBN Identifier:

Mount Rainier National Park contains 29 named glacial features which cover an area of 30.4 square miles (78.8 km2) (Beason, 2017), making it the most glaciated mountain in the conterminous United States. As part of long term monitoring projects on glacier health at Mount Rainier and other region parks, we are interested in the effects of climate on overall glacial mass balance. All glaciers at Mount Rainier are retreating, some of them quite dramatically. For instance, the terminus of the Nisqually Glacier on the south side of Mount Rainier has had an average retreat rate of about three feet (one meter) every 10 days between 2003 and 2015. Between 1896 and 2015, Mount Rainier as a whole has had an overall decrease in glacial area of 20.1 square miles (52.1 km2), or an annual decrease of 0.17 square miles per year (0.44 km2/year) (George and Beason, 2017).

While many studies currently exist that are documenting changes to glaciers at Mount Rainier, one of the best ways to witness the dynamic nature of a glacier is with time-lapse photography. In 2018, the National Park Service's North Coast and Cascades Research Learning Center funded the procurement of two field-deployable solar-powered high-resolution time-lapse cameras. These cameras were installed to view the Nisqually Glacier: one location (nicknamed "Minion 1") along the Moraine Trail that observed the terminus of the glacier to summit; and one location (nicknamed "Minion 2") along the Skyline Trail that observed the glacier from about the 6,000 foot level to summit. Each installation included a tripod mount, solar panel, equipment housing, batteries, camera controller, and 18.0 megapixel Canon Rebel T6 Digital SLR camera. The camera was programmed to acquire images at a five-minute interval during daylight hours.

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Suggested Citations:
In Text Citation:
Beason and Kenyon (2018) or (Beason and Kenyon, 2018)

References Citation:
Beason, S.R. and T.R. Kenyon, 2018, Time-lapse photography of glaciers at Mount Rainier National Park: Unpublished Resource Article, North Coast and Cascades Research Learning Center, National Park Service, 3 p..