Project Pressure Exhibition Explores Climate Change and Glaciers

Project Pressure, a charity founded in 2008, seeks to provoke action to confront climate change by organizing exhibitions that combine photography and science, specifically focused on the world’s glaciers.   

The group’s latest installation of artwork is titled “Meltdown. A Visualization of Climate Change by Project Pressure” and is on display until September 1st at the Natural History Museum, Vienna. The exhibit features projects by renowned artists, such as architecture and landscape photographer Simon Norfolk, who have traveled around the world to photograph some of the planet’s most vulnerable environments and landscapes. The artists worked with scientists from a wide array of backgrounds to ensure accuracy. 

Norfolk uses fire lines to map the past front of the Lewis Glacier on Mt Kenya (Source: Natural History Museum, Vienna)

Glaciers retreat and glacier mass loss is a readily apparent symptom of the impacts of climate change. Mass loss from glaciers, unlike other weather and climate events, can be directly attributed to warming. All around the world, glaciers are visibly shrinking, prompting local residents, elected officials, academics, prominent cultural figures, and climate activists to raise the alarm about the rapidly deteriorating state of the world’s glaciers. 

The exhibition is divided into three sections, the first of which is titled “The Importance of Glaciers,” which includes work from artist Peter Funch, a Danish photographer who captures landscapes, people, and portraits . Funch uses postcards of images of glaciers in America to portray recession over the years, giving the effect of old photographs by using RGB tricolor separation, a technique invented in the 19th century. 

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Interview with artist Peter Funch about the upcoming When Records Melt exhibition. Read the full story @ unseenamsterdam.com – “The project features photographs taken during my multiple trips to the Northern Cascade Mountain Range in between 2014 to 2016. The photographs are contemporary recreations of vintage Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier postcards found on Ebay and such. Using these ephemera, maps, and satellite images I was able to locate positions where the original postcard images were made. Consequently I re-captured the mountain’s glaciers from the same positions to create comparative juxtapositions of then and now. As an aesthetic point of departure, I’ve used RGB-tricolour separation, a technique invented in the 19th century during the Industrial Revolution. RGB-tricolour separation is a process that uses red, green, and blue filters to make three monochrome images, which are then combined to make a single full-color image. However the current glacial recession predates the use of color photography: the recession dates to 1850, while tricolour projection became the standard in the following decade. With this timeline in mind, we can say that the photographic representation of glaciers has always included it as a subject in a state of decline and regression. The use of RGB-tricolour separation incites a dialogue on the influence of mankind on nature. I see it as our blindness to the consequences we as society are creating in our desire to control nature.” – #climatechange #photography #art #peterfunch #glacier #projectpressure #unseenamsterdam #whenrecordsmelt

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Various urgent subjects are explored in the second section of the exhibition, “Current Issues. This includes the impacts of climate change and glacier loss on populations, such as the over one billion people dependent on the Himalayas for water. 

The final section of the exhibit, “Meltdown Consequences,” surprises audience with peculiar examples of the impacts of climate change. This section includes work by artists Norfolk + Thymann, picturing part of the Rhone glacier in Switzerland covered by geo-thermal cloth to prevent further melting. This striking image reflects the desperate attempt by local people in trying to conserve the critical water resources that glaciers provide and that they heavily depend on.  

Norfolk + Thymann present an unusual attempt to prevent melting at Rhone glacier (Source: MELTDOWN Press Release)

Project Pressure artist Toby Smith is an environmental photographer whose project “Heavens and Earth on Aragat” is currently being exhibited as part of Meltdown. Smith told GlacierHub about the project and shared his experience during his time on Mount Aragats, the highest point in Armenia. The glacier feeds into a network of tributaries, providing water to surrounding provinces.

Smith said that initial research conducted for the project showed Mount Aragat was under major threat from climate change, experiencing dwindling ice cover and rapid decrease in glacial surface area over time. “The glacial cover has been disappearing on account of the insufficient snowfall, changes in rainfall patterns, and critically an increase in annual mean air temperatures,” he said. 

Glaciation at this snowfield has been retreating due to increased temperatures and reduced snowfall (Source: Toby Smith/Project Pressure)

One of Smith’s main goals was to understand the different human relations with glacier flow. He was able to connect with people from remote villages across provinces and learn how changes on the mountain affected their lives. Unfortunately this change in hydrology has negatively impacted the livelihoods and economies of these local communities. Although the primary focus is to document landscapes, Smith said he deliberately focused on also exhibiting a strong human and cultural presence on the mountain. 

Fiona Bunn, a British and Swiss alpine photographer, commented on the power of photography and visual artwork to raise awareness on important issues regarding climate change.

“For the past 5 years I have felt the increasing significance of communicating through visual arts the changes I have seen, and the positive impact it can have on awareness of climate change” she said. Bunn added that the role of an artist in this field involves documenting changes, celebrating the beauty of the natural environment, and creating community by sharing with the world nature through art.

“The success of “Meltdown” is in finding a public platform for sharing this important issue”.

Astronomy lab at 3200m above seal level on the South Western slopes of Mount Aragats (Source: Toby Smith/Project Pressure)

The Meltdown exhibition is on display at the Natural History Museum, Vienna until September 1, 2019. Like the glaciers, see it before it’s too late.

Read More on GlacierHub:

Event Series Highlights Threats to Tibet’s Glaciers

Dispatch from the Cryosphere: Glacier Decrease in the Georgian Caucasus

How Mountain-Dwellers Talk About Adapting to Melting Glaciers

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GlacierHub News Report 06:21:18

GlacierHub News Report 06:21:18

The GlacierHub News Report is a bi-monthly video news report that features some of our website’s top stories. This week, GlacierHub News is featuring an assessment of the environmental impact of tourism in Tibet, deforestation on Mt. Kenya, cryoacoustics, and the adventures of a Filipino world traveler.

This week’s news report features:

 

Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Tourism in Tibet

By: Yang Zhang

Summary: In a paper published earlier this year in the Journal of Mountains, six researchers from the Tibetan Plateau provide science-based suggestions for policymakers to decide where and how ecotourism should be conducted. The construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway in 2006 gave people across the globe access to this cut-off region. By 2017, Tibet was the host of 25.61 million travelers worldwide, a 12-times growth compared to a decade ago. The exponential increase in tourism raises significant concerns about environmental degradation in this fragile ecological hotspot.

Read more about the research here.

Is Deforestation Driving Mt. Kenya’s Glacier Recession?

By: Jade Payne

Summary: Mount Kenya’s glaciers are rapidly receding. A new study published in the American Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering found that forest cover has the highest correlation with Mt. Kenya’s glacier coverage. The study found that the current trend in glacier thinning will continue until the glaciers completely disappear by 2100. In addition, the research found forest cover to be responsible for 75 percent of changes in glacier coverage during the study period, from 1984 to 2017.

Read more about Mt. Kenya’s glacier recession here.

Pioneer Study Sounds Out Iceberg Melting in Norway

By: Sabrina Ho

Summary: Last month, a team of researchers published their work on the intensity, directionality and temporal statistics of underwater noise produced when icebergs melt. The study is a pioneer in the field of cryoacoustics research still in its early stages since existing studies largely focus on larger forms of ice such as glaciers and ice shelves instead of icebergs.

Read more about the study here.

From the Philippines to Glacier Grey

By: Brian Poe Llamanzares

Summary: Rocco Puno, a Filipino world traveler, shared his story about traveling to Glacier Grey, a massive 1,200-year-old glacier that stretches 350 km long in the Chilean side of Patagonia.

Read the full story here.

Video Credits:

Presenters: Brian Poe Llamanzares & Jade Payne

Video Editor: Brian Poe Llamanzares

Writer: Brian Poe Llamanzares

News Intro: YouTube

Music: iMovie

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Is Deforestation Driving Mt. Kenya’s Glacier Recession?

High above the African continent, Mount Kenya’s glaciers are rapidly receding. A new study published in the American Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering is one of the few to analyze the retreat of African glaciers, finding that forest cover has the highest correlation with Mt. Kenya’s glacier coverage. The study’s climate prediction models found that the current trend in glacier thinning will continue, although at a slower rate, until the glaciers completely disappear by 2100. In addition, the research found forest cover to be responsible for 75 percent of changes in glacier coverage during the study period, from 1984 to 2017. But can local deforestation truly be so impactful?

2017 Glacier Coverage on Mt. Kenya (Source: American Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering).

About 7 percent of Kenya is currently forested, and the average trees per person measurement is well below the global average. The country suffered from massive deforestation during the last century due to logging, charcoal burning, and agricultural expansion. In this same period, Mt. Kenya has lost roughly 92 percent of its ice cap, according to the study. Out of its once expansive 18 glaciers that reached thousands of feet beneath the 17,057-foot peak, only eight remain, with all of the remaining glaciers suffering substantial losses in both thickness and area, a change the authors attribute to the lack of forest cover.

However, earlier research conducted on other glaciers in Africa conflicts with these findings. At Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak lying 324 kilometers south of Mt. Kenya, glacier recession has been found to be more dependent on regional precipitation patterns than local deforestation ones, according to studies from both 2008 and 2004. A study in ScienceDirect also found that glacier recession near Mt. Kilimanjaro was not affected by local deforestation. And “long-term ice retreat at the summit of Kilimanjaro is most likely to be influenced by changes in local land-use as well as more regional free-air changes,” argues further research in Global and Planetary Change.

Without additional investigation focused on Mt. Kenya, it remains difficult for scientists to draw firm conclusions about the causes of glacier recession.

Batian Peak on Mt. Kenya (Source: Stefan Leitner/Flickr).

The government of Kenya has attempted to reverse deforestation impacts with efforts to prevent logging throughout the early 2000s, but the most recent logging ban has recently been relaxed. This places Mt. Kenya at risk of further glacial retreat, which raises concerns about water sources for the many rivers fed by Mt. Kenya’s glaciers.

“As climate variability increases, the Mount Kenya watershed becomes more important,” Kathleen Galvin, an anthropology professor and director of the Africa Center at Colorado State University told GlacierHub. “If the glaciers retreat at the same time as seasonal climate variability occurs, people, livestock, and wildlife will become more vulnerable,” she warns.

Mt. Kenya’s glaciers serve as the headwaters of the Ewaso Nyiro river watershed which provides water to the high potential agricultural communities around the mountain. The river is also important to the northern Kenyan pastoralists, including the Samburu, Somali, and Borana, according to Galvin. The study finds that the current drying out trend of rivers that have catchments in the Mt. Kenya forests will continue, leading to an increased water shortage and vulnerability for the area.

Study area on Mt. Kenya (Source: American Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering).

The researchers used Landsat and climate data from the last 33 years to find correlations between glacier coverage and forest cover, temperature, precipitation, solar insolation, and relative humidity. Forest coverage was by far the leading driver found by the authors for the glacier retreat on Mt. Kenya, with temperature also responsible for 16 percent of the changes in glacier coverage. In addition, models were used to predict future conditions until 2045.

According to Abe Goldman of the Department of Geography and Center for African Studies at the University of Florida, it would be a considerable achievement if forest cover within Mt. Kenya National Park boundaries could even be maintained at present levels in the coming years.

“Given current demographic and land use trends and conditions, there is little probability of actual forest increase (though there might be slightly more trees on farms),” he told GlacierHub.

Goldman’s concerns ran deeper, however, as he found some of the study’s assertions to be “questionable.”

“There is no causal mechanism noted that would generate increased glacial mass if ‘forest cover’ were increased,” he said. “Nor is it clear which forest cover at which location(s) might lead to glacial expansion.”

He also notes that the populations and intensive land use of Kenya and the surrounding countries, and especially close to Mt. Kenya National Park, have drastically increased, with 60 percent of the population being agricultural and reliant on biomass for energy. “The major role of population growth surrounding Mt. Kenya, especially adjacent to park boundaries, is neglected in the article,” said Goldman.

The authors of the study could not be reached for comment by the time of publication of this article. However, it is clear that further research is needed to study Mt. Kenya’s glaciers and other glaciers throughout the African continent in order to grasp the rapid changes that have heavy ties to both surrounding ecosystems and local communities.

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Photo Friday: Exploring the Possibility of Glaciers in Wakanda

The gleaming sky-scrapers secluded by vast, white-peaked mountain ranges are some of the first clues that you might be in Golden City, Wakanda. The newest addition to the Marvel cinematic universe, “Black Panther,” is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, which contains exclusive metal vibranium, but does it contain glaciers?

Wakanda is depicted as being located on the edge of Lake Turkana, somewhere near the intersection of Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia. This would put it roughly in East Africa, which contains two glaciated ranges— the Ruwenzori Mountains and the peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya. These glaciers provide important sources of livelihood for those nearby, from fertile soils to lush forests with important water catchment services.

Praised for having a “superb cast” and stunning visuals, “Black Panther” has become one of the highest grossing and top-rated Marvel movies of all time. It goes beyond its excellent cinematic exterior to “deal with the issues of being of African descent,” says Director Ryan Coogler when speaking to TIME. In the same light, it has been labeled a “cultural touchtone” by some due to its diversity in film and representation of the African culture. For this week’s Photo Friday, explore the possibility of a glaciated Wakanda, and let us know what you think in the comments. “Black Panther” is currently playing in theaters now.

 

The Avengers’ ship is seen entering Wakanda. The white-tipped peaks on the mountains along the border broaden our suspicions of glaciers in the country (Source: Fandom/Ultimate Avengers II DVD).

 

The location of Wakanda in the Black Panther film (Source: Fandom).

 

Travelers traverse the Ruwenzori Mountains in Uganda. Could this be a popular activity for the people of Wakanda? (Source: Mandala Travel/Creative Commons).

 

Mt. Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania and is the highest peak in Africa. Perhaps it would serve as a point of interest for some nearby superheroes? (Source: Creative Commons).

 

Try and spot some potential clues to glaciers in the film’s official trailer below:

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