Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Quick - before it melts! - glaciers disappearing fast

Whilst every glacier in the world is not melting and retreating (nor would they be expected too - climate change means some will grow as some areas get colder and have greater precipitation of snow and ice) it is true that the vast majority are shrinking due to gradually rising temperatures. Around 95% of the glaciers outside Antarctica are retreating. This is a very slow occurrence, however. Indeed, "glacial slowness" is a well-known metaphor for a very slow process. Enter the time lapse camera, which is the best way of showing the changes in an obvious way.

Here are two videos about the glacial retreat. The second one is probably the most dramatic but, as it is one of the excellent TED talks, there is about 10 minutes preamble (which is very well worth listening to) before the time lapse movie is shown. The whole clip is about 20 minutes in total. Bear in mind with time lapse films of glaciers that you will see the seasonal variations too – glaciers advance in winter and retreat during summer – like waves of ice breaking upon a shore. The long term time lapse shows that the “tide” of ice is indisputably going out as the climate is changing.

Photographer James Balog shares new image sequences from the Extreme Ice Survey, a network of time-lapse cameras recording glaciers receding at an alarming rate, some of the most vivid evidence yet of climate change.



K Singer said...

These are scary scary statistics. I really feel for people in places like the Maldives who will be the first to go, despite having done nothing or very little to earn these problems.

Nick Palmer said...

It's worse than that - I think I saw recently that more than 10% of humanity relies upon glacial melt water for agriculture and drinking water. As the glaciers go over the next few decades there will be a severe impact way beyond just losing coastal areas

Nick Palmer said...

Whoops! I checked and the figure is more like a stunning 40 percent of the world's population who live downstream from glacier tributaries in Asia. That's 2.4 billion people.