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Scientists paint a glacial picture

Blending the disciplines of art and science, Bern University geographers combed through thousands of old paintings and photographs of the Alps to understand exactly when each glacier was at its height and when it began to retreat.

Professor Heinz Zumbühl and Dr. Daniel Steiner, along with their colleague Samuel Nussbaumer, analysed some of the earliest glacier photographs and art sources to produce the article, “19th century glacier representations and fluctuations in the central and western European Alps”. The project primarily examines photos and paintings of the Lower Grindelwald Glacier in the Bernese Oberland and Mer de Glace on the Mont Blanc massif.

“The mid-19th century was, in many ways, a very interesting time,” the authors write in the study. There was a major glacial advance at the time, as well as a revolutionary change in glacier representation techniques, from drawings and prints to the much more precise first photographs.

Steiner and Zumbühl shared the following photos and analyses with

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR