Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Environmental Studies Program


Loren McClenahan

Second Advisor

Amanda Lilleston

Third Advisor

Rory Bradley


Glaciers are sensitive indicators and data keepers of climatic change. The glaciers of the North Cascades, Washington, also have significant economic and cultural value as they are enmeshed in hydroelectricity generation, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, and human communities. My project approaches the current climate crisis by examining the past, present and future of the glaciers of the North Cascades through the two lenses of art and science. I review and contextualize the last century of glacier research in the North Cascades to identify patterns of glacier change and how this affects ecological and human communities. Overlaid upon my literature review, I examine the visual communication strategies of scientists. Maps, photography and innovative figures can all enhance our understanding of data and are of particular utility for communicating findings to the public. I devote the second chapter of this thesis to surveying the presence of glaciers in contemporary art and find that historically durable environmental narratives shape the creation and assimilation of glacier-focused art. Due to the swift rate of current glacier loss and the steps necessary to adaptation, the stakes of visualizing glacier loss are high. Images within both scientific and artistic contexts shape people’s understanding of climate change and their ability to engage in the issue. In the final section of this project, I present my own printmaking portfolio that responds to themes and gaps within the scientific and artistic fields and tells stories from my own experience on the glaciers of the North Cascades.


Glacier, Climate change, Science communication, Art-science, North Cascades