Glacier monitoring in Grand Teton: How you can help

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Grand Teton National Park staff will host a citizen science glacier survey Labor Day weekend, September 1 and 2. The effort is the first of its kind in the park and will give citizen volunteers the opportunity to participate in glacier monitoring efforts in the Teton Range.

Grand Teton with Schoolroom Glacier in the foreground. (Garrett Fisher)

Working alongside park experts, participants will photograph the Schoolroom Glacier to create a digital three-dimensional model of its surface. This model will be used to track changes in the glacier’s volume over time. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn about glacial change in the Teton Range and the science behind other monitoring efforts.

At its current rate of retreat, the glacier will completely disappear by 2030, if not sooner.

This event is free and open to the public. Participants should be able to hike the strenuous trail to the head of the South Fork of Cascade Canyon, a one-way distance of 10 miles with more than 3,000 feet of elevation gain. Participants should also bring a camera or smartphone if they have one.

Grand Teton National Park’s iconic glaciers have retreated, some significantly, since they were first surveyed in the 1950s. They play a critical role within the park as they provide a year-round coldwater source for mountain streams and the plants and animals that rely on them. They are also an unforgettable part of the mountain experience in the park, with several prominent glaciers visible from roadside overlooks and accessible to hikers and climbers.

Birdseye glacialness

Garrett Fisher’s 1949 Piper plane.

For more on Wyoming glaciers, check out Glaciers of the Rockies, by Garrett Fisher. The former Alpine Airpark resident uses an antique 1949 Piper PA-11 weighing just 776 pounds to get up close and personal with high-alpine lakes and glaciers. In this 100-horsepower plane, Fisher has photographed and catalogued every remaining glacier in the Rockies—many of which will be lost in our lifetime.

Fisher has published several books including Flying Jackson Hole as well as his latest 128-pager stuffed with 177 stunning images—half of which is dedicated to Wyoming glaciers including an entire chapter devoted to glaciers of the Tetons.

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