Staff News

NCAR hosts photojournalist James Balog, climatologist Gavin Schmidt

On April 21, Lafayette-based photojournalist James Balog visited the Mesa Lab to present glacier images from his Extreme Ice Survey. The presentation was part of ESSL/CGD’s seminar series.

 The Extreme Ice Survey is the most wide-ranging glacier study ever conducted using ground-based, real-time photography. It features time-lapse videos, taken in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, and the Rocky Mountains, that document the rapid changes occurring in Earth's frozen realms. The videos are supplemented with repeat photography in Iceland, the Alps, and Bolivia.

 Guided by the recommendations of glaciologists, Balog and his team installed time-lapse cameras at accessible and photogenic sites that represent regional conditions and have high scientific value. The solar-powered cameras are programmed to shoot once an hour during daylight, capturing approximately 4,000 images per year for a total projected archive of nearly 500,000 photographs by completion of the survey.

 Balog, a geomorphologist by training, became interested in photographing changes in ice after a 2005 assignment photographing glaciers in Iceland for The New Yorker. “I feel it’s vitally important to show what’s happening with the canary in the coal mine,” he told a crowd of several dozen at the Mesa Lab, referring to the special vulnerability of glaciers to climate change.

 On June 18, NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt will speak at the Center Green auditorium at 4:00 p.m. and sign copies of his new book, Climate Change: Picturing the Science. The book is a collection of essays by climate scientists on the nature of human-induced climate change, the ways scientists have come to understand and measure the risks that it poses, and the options that we face. Schmidt, a climatologist, is the co-founder of RealClimate.org, where he is a contributing editor. More details will appear in Today@UCAR.