International photographer James Balog’s Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) could be described as a watching a planetary train wreck through time-lapse photography – it is breathtaking, bizarrely beautiful, shocking and worrisome. Climate change deniers and those disputing the threat of rising sea levels along coasts and deltas need only observe the careful, factual sequences of conventional time-lapse photography assembled in video animations that show the dramatic retreat – the “meltdown” — of earth’s glaciers from global warming. Watch the videos
Well known for other breakthrough photography– e.g. his stunning animal portraits in Survivors: A New Vision of Endangered Wildlife —Balog hatched the idea of the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), and since 2007 has worked with a team that includes scientists, videographers and weather professionals to capture a photographic record of glacial change, using fixed-position cameras at glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, Canada, Austria, the Nepalese Himalaya, and the US Rocky Mountains. The cameras are solar-powered and operate year-round, automatically snapping a shot every 30 minutes during daylight hours. Then the team uses the collected images to create video sequences of glaciers’ dramatic retreat. They are both scientific proof and powerful stuff for outreach and educating the public.
Balog calls this body of work “the memory of the landscape” as ancient glaciers disappear.
EIS Becomes Award-Winning Documentary
The Extreme Ice Survey inspired various media productions, including a NOVA special Extreme Ice; and Balog’s book Ice: Portraits of the Vanishing Glaciers, which is a summary of the EIS through 2012. Chasing Ice (2012) , based on the EIS and other original photography, is a 75-minute Emmy- and Academy-Award -winning documentary which has now been viewed in over 170 countries. (View the photo gallery)
Balog is still on the go, with an Earth Vision Institute and a spinoff interactive toolkit – Getting the Picture –that is free and available online to help kids, families and teachers understand the effects of global warming and climate change. It’s chock full of lesson plans, film, still and time-lapse photography and first-hand accounts of changing climate.
Balog got the picture – now he wants all of us to have it!
Chasing Ice (the documentary)
Getting the Picture – an interactive toolkit for teachers, kids, families