We’re no longer strangers to the ideal of melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, along with other stark symbols of climate change around the world. Monitoring warming trends and behaviors worldwide, after all, offer scientists an updated look at what’s happening.
Now, a new set of time-lapse photos show that climate change effects are already underway.
Time Lapse Of Melting Glaciers
The Geological Society of America presented the thinning of Earth’s glaciers in before-and-after images spanning the last decade, with most of the photos taken by photographer James Balog for the Extreme Ice Survey project. Starting 2007, the project has been documenting changing glaciers.
“[W]hen you can deliver an understanding of the reality of what’s going on through vision, rather than numbers or maps, that also has the unique ability to touch and influence people,” Balog told Washington Post, suggesting that ground-level photos offer a sense of immediacy lacking in satellite imagery as well as similar scientific tools.
Giving Balog the most personal impact of all images is Iceland’s Sólheimajökull glacier, which he dubbed his “first love” and made him first realize changes in ice in a “shockingly” short time period.
Based on reports, the glacier has thinned by over 2,000 feet since 2007.
Specific Effects Witnessed
From 1978 to 2016, Peru’s Qori Kalis glacier receded 3,740 feet and was described by Ohio State University scientist Lonnie Thompson to be akin to “a terminally ill family member.”
In Switzerland, the Stein glacier diminished around 1,800 feet from 2006 to 2015, while the Trift glacier shied away almost three-quarters of a mile in the same period.
Not Just Greenland And Antarctic Ice Sheets
Glaciers naturally melt and retreat while their counterparts thrive. Measurements of the 5,200 glaciers on Earth, however, demonstrated how rising temperatures have heightened the melting and speed of glacial retreat.
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets contain the most ice on this planet. Antarctica, called the “last place on Earth,” has been recently logging record heat. An Argentine research base situated near the tip of the Antarctic peninsula recorded record-high heat in the area at 63.5 degrees Fahrenheit (17.5 degrees Celsius), according to the World Meteorological Organization.
A staggering 90 percent of Earth’s freshwater, taking the form of ice sheet that’s around 3 miles thick, is found in the continent. If all of it would melt, sea levels around Earth will rise by around 200 feet.
But smaller glaciers such as those in Europe also exhibit changes in response to their changing surroundings. In fact, they may even be changing more quickly than those in the poles, the study warned.
The bigger ice sheets are also likely have the greatest consequence on global sea level rise, but these melting mountain glaciers lead to certain effects, too. As they shrink away, for instance, there is less fresh water becoming available for communities depending on runoff from such glaciers.
Too much melting of these smaller glaciers can result in massive flooding as well.
While satellite imagery offers some of the most accurate details on glacial melting and retreat, on-the-ground imagery delivers something different. In particular, it presents undeniable visual proof of climate change impacts already underway.