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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: data description paper 25 Jun 2019

Submitted as: data description paper | 25 Jun 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).

Historic photographs of glaciers and glacial landforms from the R. S. Tarr collection at Cornell University

Julie Elliott1 and Matthew E. Pritchard2 Julie Elliott and Matthew E. Pritchard
  • 1Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
  • 2Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

Abstract. Historic photographs are useful for documenting glacier, environmental, and landscape change and we have digitized a collection of about 1949 images collected during an 1896 expedition to Greenland and trips to Alaska in 1905, 1906, 1909, and 1911, led by Ralph Stockman Tarr and his students at Cornell University. These images are openly available in the public domain through Cornell University Library ( The primary research targets of these expeditions were glaciers (there are about 990 photographs of at least 58 named glaciers) but there are also photographs of people, villages, geologic features, and formerly glaciated regions, including glacial features near Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Some of the glaciers featured in the photographs have retreated significantly in the last century or even completely vanished. For many glaciers, multiple views are available, potentially allowing the use of photogrammetric techniques to generate three-dimensional models of the ice extent. While some of these photographs have been used in publications in the early 20th century, most of the images are only now widely available for the first time. The digitized collection also includes about 300 lantern slides made from the expedition photographs and other related images and used in classes and public presentations about glaciers and glaciations by several Cornell faculty over the decades. The images are of scientific interest for understanding glacier and ecological change, of public policy interest for documenting climate change, of historic and anthropological interest as local people, settlements, and gold-rush era paraphernalia are featured in the images, and of artistic and technological interest as the photographic techniques used were cutting-edge for their time.

Julie Elliott and Matthew E. Pritchard
Interactive discussion
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Julie Elliott and Matthew E. Pritchard
Data sets

Historic Glacial Images of Alaska and Greenland from the Ralph Stockman Tarr expeditions (1896; 1905-1911) R. S. Tarr and Cornell University Library

Julie Elliott and Matthew E. Pritchard
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