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This photographer-scientists collaboration shows the speed of climate change

Ian van Coller had scientists annotate his photos to show how climate change is warping geological time around the world.

Ian van Coller

Climate change is warping geological time, compressing the time scales of natural processes. In photographs taken around the world, Ian van Coller has documented these shifts, reflected in rocks, sediment, and the shrinking of glaciers. Van Coller collaborates with scientists who annotate his images, pointing out key geological features. He also uses historical photos to show changes, juxtaposing the black-and-white images taken by earlier expeditions with today’s landscapes; peaks once covered in snow are now bare rock.

Fairy Lake Mudcore
A mud core from Fairy Lake in Montana, superimposed against the surrounding mountains, reveals thousands of years of vegetative history. Geographer James Benes annotated the photo.
IAN VAN COLLER
Quelccaya
Quelccaya Glacier in Peru, seen here in 2017, is receding. The foreground rocks show signs of glacial erosion and were likely still covered 10 years ago. Each layer in the ice represents a year’s worth of snow. Annotated by geographer Carsten Braun.
Ian Van Coller
Rwenzori
A photograph taken in 2020 shows just how little is left of the glacier at Mount Stanley in Uganda. The photo from a 1906 expedition shows the glacier below Elena Peak; today what’s left is dirty ice, a sign the glacier will soon be gone. (Carsten Braun)
Ian van Coller
Mt Baker
At nearby Mount Baker, also in Uganda, the story is similar. Dotted lines are an attempt to estimate the ice seen in earlier expeditions on Semper Peak, which is now bare rock. There is no sign of what the 1906 photo labels Moore Glacier. (Carsten Braun)
Ian Van Coller