Disappearing Ice Giants: Glaciers

Since my first exposure to ice landscapes, I have been completely captivated. Their sheer enormity seems to extend beyond horizons and through time itself. The source of this fascination eludes me and sometimes I wonder why I have come to feel this way when I was born in Africa, not a place known for its ice.

ImageThe Tasman glacier, New Zealand

ImageGetting acquainted with Fox glacier, New Zealand

ImageFox glacier’s terminal face, New Zealand

Nevertheless, as I found out, the expanse of global ice may even surprise many of you who haven’t had a chance or taken the time to research it. The extent of glaciers ranges across different latitudes and are all around us. They are more common in some places than others for example Antarctica and Greenland have more than Africa, would you believe it?

ImageHelheim, Greenland 2012 – Klaus Thymann

It is terrible and surprising to learn that these majestic naturally occurring phenomena are diminishing. There are projects that attempt to promote awareness and coverage but in Australia, these are overshadowed by the liberal governments failures. To me this is unacceptable, how is my love story to continue if the glaciers are shrinking? There are some groups such as Project Pressure which attempt to “document the world’s vanishing glaciers in order to highlight the impact of climate change, inspiring action and participation”. Klaus Thymann, the project’s artistic director speaks of it being a venture that seeks to accrue a visual archive of the globe’s glaciers, not just from an artistic perspective but from a scientific one as well. Unlike a lot of other organisations everyone can contribute to this project, through uploading their own photographs or simply discussing its importance.

This topic is of particular relevance due to the recent reports of many environmental publications about the ‘unstoppable nature’ of some glaciers. The ones I refer to are of course located in the well-known western Antarctica ice sheet/shelf. This is a direct impact of the effects of climate change and should not be news to any environment enthusiast, I hope. This will be a direct correlation to future sea level rises. However the glaciers in this area will not be the only ones affected, for example Greenland is also experiencing unprecedented melting and the majority of the African continental glaciers are diminishing at a drastic rate. The iconic Ruwenzori Mountain glaciers have diminished by 50% within the last century. This is alarming not only for my love affair, but for the global community.

These ice giants must receive greater recognition, not just because of this tragedy but also for their general importance. James Balog, a former climate change sceptic and acclaimed environmental photographer made this more of a reality when he went on a journey to the Arctic to capture these disappearing pulsing ice structures. His scepticism soon changed as he witnessed the declining phenomena and went on to film ‘Chasing Ice’ (above). “This is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of our changing planet.” This film illustrates the growing significance of glaciers in the face of irreversible damage that is deeper than just its beauty and vastness.

I encourage you to share the stories of these ice giants and maybe, together, we can keep my love affair alive.

Richert Ahlers (U5537966)

About Biodiversity Conservation Blog

I am an Associate Professor at The Australian National University and convene a (very awesome) course called Biodiversity Conservation. Myself and students in the course contribute to this blog.
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2 Responses to Disappearing Ice Giants: Glaciers

  1. Beautiful images. Everyone should watch the trailer and now I want to see the movie! Phil

  2. Awesome blog Riko! Thanks for the insights – Victoria

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