As a nature photographer, I traveled all over the globe during my 20-year career. Of course, I loved every minute of this job, mainly because I always felt that this was my true calling. The appreciation for the visual aspects of the natural world around us started a long time ago when I was just a little boy.
I lived with my parents in a large city, where nature was only to be found in scarce parks and similar public spaces. But, my grandparents lived outside of the city, a few hours’ drive from my home. I stayed there during summer months and winter school breaks and even though they lived in a small town, surrounded by meadows, farmland, and small forests, it still provided me with a chance to get to know the great outdoors in a different way.
Here, my grandfather, who was an avid bird watcher, started taking me on day trips, armed with binoculars, folding chairs and a bird species illustrated book. While we stayed in the woods, near rivers and in similar places, I was first a bit bored, but then, as the minutes became hours, I slowly began to realize the sheer indescribable beauty that is the natural world. Here, in the peace and serenity of a forest, a whole universe resides in complete harmony.
My grandfather taught me that the biggest thing which this setting can grant us is that sense of inner peace and that it comes from only observing it, nothing more. This idea filled me with joy and wonder ever since, and it guided my decision to become a photography, student. Once I finished school, I decided to become a nature photographer and never looked back. But, during my career, the same nature I loved so much began to be threatened like never before.
My last trip took me to visit two glaciers that were undergoing substantial changes. Here, I received the full impact of this terrifying idea. First one was the Morteratsch Glacier, located in Switzerland. As one of the most tracked glaciers in the world, it started being measured all the way back in 1878.
I was accompanied by a local guide, and we set off one morning. When we began our trek, the glacier in the distance looked perfectly fine, so we decided to set up camp at one secluded place. While we slept, I heard a strange cracking noise all through the night. In the morning, my guide told me that the permafrost in the ground slowly melts as the temperature of the lower layers rise. We continued the next day, traveling across the gravel, and at one point, my guide slipped and yelled so loudly I was afraid that he would start an avalanche.
Fortunately, the only thing that was hurt by that yell were my eardrums. At the end of the day, we arrived at the edge of the glacier and I immediately understood the devastation it received. The Morteratsch Glacier, it dawned on me as I took photos, was disappearing. Since 1999, the glacier is retreating more than 30 meters per year and the amount of yearly loss is only growing. As we started our way back, a somber mood took over me.
My trip continued as I took a transport to the Argentiere Glacier, the second receding spot I was about to document. It is located in the French Alps, near the village of Argentiere. There, I started a trek to the glacier with a small group of hikers. As we embarked, the group was cheerful and happy for the opportunity to see this magical place. But, once we reached the marked spot, we saw only gravel and loose stones.
In the distance, we noticed a line of ice, but there was still a long way to go. As we walked I noticed that people around me became a lot less joyful as it occurred to them that the glacier receded further since their maps were made. I knew that the ice of the glacier does not only lose its length but also its thickness.
Since the middle of the 20th century, the Argentiere Glacier has lost around 11 meters in thickness on average. Once we reached the glacier, my party was on the edge of tears. They all knew that the edge on which we were standing will not exist in a couple of months. We came back to the village, but all knew and felt the devastation that this glacier, a place of sheer beauty, will continue to experience.
My trip came to an end, but like never before, I knew for a certainty that the global climate changes are wreaking havoc on our world. The mighty glaciers, enormous and strong like the ancient ice from which they are made of, are disappearing, all because of our impact on the global climate.
Their ice is melting and they are vanishing forever. I knew about the impact of climate change, but now I experienced it like never before. I fully understand that something needs to be done if we desire the next generations have a chance to enjoy nature’s beauty and wonder.
Sept 22, 2015 update. It turns out, that after restoring lost content, and giving google some time to review it, apparently google is preferring everything on MetOffice.gov.uk, and I think everything on this site is de-indexed. It just means an opportunity to do something different, when I can find the time.