ONE hundred years after photos taken from a biplane revealed the majesty of Mont Blanc from the air, a recreation by Scottish researchers shows how climate change has altered the alp.

Landmark glaciers are seen to have reduced significantly in images taken by a team from Dundee University.

Dr Kieran Baxter and Dr Alice Watterson from the 3DVisLab at the university’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design used a process called monoplotting to pinpoint the original camera position in airspace taken up by Swiss pilot Walter Mittelholzer in 1919.

The National:

They then flew over the massif in a helicopter to repeat three of Mittelholzer’s famous shots of the Argentiere, Mont Blanc Bossons and Mer de Glace glaciers.

All three reveal “large-scale” ice loss in the region.

Baxter hung from the aircraft to take the shots – revealed yesterday – at a height of around 4700 metres. He said: “The scale of the ice loss was immediately evident as we reached altitude but it was only by comparing the images side-by-side that the last 100 years of change were made visible.

“It was both a breathtaking and heartbreaking experience, particularly knowing that the melt has accelerated massively in the last few decades.

“Mittelholzer played a key role in popularising commercial air travel in Switzerland, an industry which ironically came to contribute to the warming of the climate and the detriment of the alpine landscapes that the pioneering pilot knew and loved.”

The National:

Baxter went on: “When working at these heights there is currently no viable emission-free alternative so

airtime is kept as brief as possible and careful planning goes into getting the most out of a photography flight like this one. Luckily, clear weather allowed these repeat aerial photographs to be taken on the centenary of the originals.

“Unless we drastically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, there will be little ice left to photograph in another hundred years.”

Mer de Glace, the longest glacier in France, is thought to have lost 80 metres in depth over the last 20 years.