On the Trails of the Glaciers

Photography and Science on glaciers at the service of the environment, on the verge of global level climate changes

“On the Trails of the Glaciers” is an interdisciplinary project of Macromicro, a no profit Association. The project, thanks to specialized photographers and a unique international Scientific Committee, conjugates photographic comparison and scientific research to analyze the effects of climate change on the biggest mountain glaciers of the Earth.

Glaciers are indeed the most sensitive and reliable climatic indicators, which allow the study of the current climatic situation and of its evolution through the time. Analyzing the glaciers is somehow like opening a database, a natural archive, which describes past and present history of our living environment.

Through different expeditions to the most important mountain chains of the world, the project realizes glaciological measurements and new photographic images. The latter reproduce those taken by photographer-explorers at the beginning of the ‘900, and are shot from the same exact geographic spot and in the same period of the year.

The comparisons between the historical and the new pictures, and the on field measurements, are so far providing data for the Scientific Committee to analyze the actual health of the glaciers.

The project, by an original and innovative combination of scientific research and photography, is intended to convey to a wide public values such as:

• sustainable development and safeguard of the natural resources, especially water;
• the role of the scientific research to improve knowledge;
• recovery and valorization of historical and cultural patronages like the photographic archives.

The first two expeditions of the project, which took place in 2009 and in 2011 respectively in Karakorum and in Caucasus, successfully reached all the aims planned; participants and sponsors all obtained many goals in terms of data collection and of the high-qualified visibility.

The next expeditions of the project are already planned with the same objectives and working methodology. The destinations have been chosen between regions of primary photographic and scientific relevance in the world. Macromicro Association is currently organizing the third expedition, which will head to Alaska in the summer of 2012. Next expeditions are expected in the Ande, Alps and Himalaya.


The scientific value of the project “On the Trails of the Glaciers”

The purpose of this project is to determine, on the basis of historic photographs, to what extent the most delicate and important system on earth – the cryosphere – has changed over the past century. Scientists and laymen by now agree that glaciers are the most reliable indicators we have to gauge climatic and environmental change on the planet. The fact is that glacial masses in mountain chains all over the world are literally collapsing, with consequences that are not yet totally imaginable. This project – by combining a study of historical evidence and documentary techniques with in loco and laboratory research, will enable us to gather important, and at times unique, information on recent glacial dynamics in a few exemplary areas such as the Karakorum, the Caucasus, the Alaska, the Andes and Alps. We will be able to determine the mass and energy balance of several glaciers — in other words, their state of health.

Prof. Claudio Smiraglia
State University of Milan
Department of Earth Sciences
Former President of the Italian Glaciologic Committee


The expeditions of the project “On the Trails of the Glaciers”


With the patronage by




















Scientific partner