alaska geographic

In this week’s Spotlight essay, Exploring Alaska’s Roadside Glaciers, Emily Epstein features Anchorage-based photographer Mark Meyer, who races against climate change to photograph as many of Alaska’s glaciers as possible. 

A hiker photographs the opening of a moulin—a tunnel that courses though the glacier—in the ceiling of a cave under the Mendenhall Glacier, June 16, 2014. Glacial caves are constantly changing; this cave collapsed a few weeks after this photograph was taken. (Mark Meyer)

An ice wall and exposed crevasse in the Matanuska Glacier, July 22, 2016. (Mark Meyer)

Early morning in front of the Worthington Glacier near Valdez, July 3, 2016. This is the view from an observation deck that is just a short walk from a parking lot and a paved trail. (Mark Meyer)

Ice climbers near the bottom of the ice falls on the Matanuska Glacier, July 22, 2016. During the summer months, guided ice-climbing trips—ranging from simple introductions to the sport to all-day, intensive courses—are available from local guides. (Mark Meyer)

The glaciers don’t crush all the rocks they transport. Those that remain intact are deposited as the glacier retreats and are known as “erratics.” Erratics can range in size from enormous boulders the size of buildings to small boulders, like this one near the terminus of the Matanuska Glacier, July 29, 2009. (Mark Meyer)

A climber scales the face of one of the Matanuska Glacier seracs, July 22, 2016. (Mark Meyer)

An ice “beach” along a supra-glacial lake on the Matanuska Glacier, July 2009. Lakes of melt water often form on glaciers; they can be stable and last for years or ephemeral, quickly draining when crevasses open under the surface. (Mark Meyer)

A guide uses crampons to climb over a moulin on the Mendenhall Glacier, June 16, 2014. Moulins form when melt water and runoff find small cracks and depressions in the glacial surface and erode the ice, creating tunnels. The moulins can be dangerous and extremely deep, leading into the internal plumbing of the glacier. (Mark Meyer)

A hiker (bottom right) is dwarfed by the massive, heavily crevassed ice fall where the Harding Icefield begins its descent into Exit Glacier, August 27, 2016. (Mark Meyer)

Helicopters ferry tourists above the Mendenhall Glacier for aerial views, July 26, 2012. Although several vistas are reachable by foot, many visitors opt to go up in helicopters—a quicker, if more expensive, option. (Mark Meyer)

Jessica Taft pauses above the Harding Icefield, August 27, 2016. The ice field is thousands of feet thick, but it does not completely cover the mountains; those peaks that stick through are called “nunataks,” from the Inuit word for “lonely peak.” (Mark Meyer)