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Melting glaciers

Climate emergency :: Melting Glaciers

While observing climate evolutions for many decades, we have noticed that the Arctic and Antarctic melting ice caps are significantly speeding up. When reading analyses from many studies, we noticed, for instance, that the glaciation level of both poles had been the lowest ever registered.

Global warming bring about major consequences such as reduction of glaciers area, the melting of icecap, the recoil of ice floe and icebergs disappearance. 

In order to broach this first subject of our Essence of Life project, our volunteers’ team chose to go to Island in autumn 2017.

16 volunteers (photographers, dancers, a video maker, models, a costume designer and a make-up designer) went to this magnificent island to approach the major problem of melting glaciers in an artistic way. 

This phenomenon has speeded up for the last decades. The figures describing the reality are staggering. An awareness of individuals is necessary and each person can participate in the collective effort allowing acting for environment.

The essence of Life project Melting Glaciers


Global warming bring about major consequences such as reduction of glaciers area, the melting of icecap, the recoil of ice floe and icebergs disappearance.

The Arctic ice floe has reached numbers of ice melting according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). It melted by 49 % in 2012, or 3.3 million of square meters. 

The thickness of glaciers is going down: the Alps have lost 1/3 of their area since 1950.

The average temperature of the planet keeps rising. The first 6 months of the year 2016 have been the hottest months, observed for 140 years. 

The satellites are one of the tools allowing us to observe the planet’s health. Each month, satellite data particularly observes the Arctic and the Antarctic. The last data was very worrying, even alarming. The glaciations level observed in November 2016 on both continents have been the lowest level ever observed until now. In those regions, ice melts during summer needs to rebuild in winter with the lower temperatures. This phenomenon is completely normal. However, for many years, ice has been melting faster and faster during summer and rebuilding slower and slower during low temperature periods.

The Antarctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the planet. Based on studied led in 2012, the Weather Underground declares that, according to measures taken from Marambio (a scientific research station based in the Antarctic on Seymour Island, to the northern point of the continent). 

The Antarctic continent got warmed four times faster than the rest of the planet between 1900 and 2011. A dramatic temperature rising which accelerates glaciers melting and disappearing of penguins colonies. 

During the first semester 2016, the Arctic ice floe has registered tremendous melting. From now on, there are real concerns regarding its capacity to weather global warming. 

Walt Meier, an expert in this area in Nasa Goddard Space Flight Center of Greenbelt (United-States) declared that along the years, we had observed that the oldest glaciers tend to disappear from the ice floe. This phenomenon raises the collective concern because the oldest ice are therefore the thickest, thus the strongest.

Photo by Grace Almera for 'The Essence of Life' project


Photo by Anya Anti for 'The Essence of Life" project

A study published in 2014; the review « Science »; clearly identified the main responsible of ice melting: Human. Humans could be responsible for 2/3 of this phenomenon which has been increasing for the last 25 years.

More precisely, greenhouse gas emissions related to human activity could cause ice melting.


  • During the 20st century, a substantial increase of the sea level has been detected.

Since 1993 the entry of satellite monitoring has indicated a raise of 3 cm from 1993 to 2003. Both phenomenons are responsible for the rise of this level:

  • Sea water expansion due to warming of ocean water
  • Melting land ice. It is considered that oceans rise has been around six centimeters for 20 years.
  • Ice melting is a disaster for populations and animals (polar bears, seals, caribous, penguins…) victims of their habitat destruction.
  • Ice melting contributes to global warming: white ice areas reflect the sunlight whereas the melt area of oceans absorbs them, which increases heat.
  • Ice floe reduction on the continent leads to a reduction of krill quantity (type of shrimp), which has a direct impact on the whole food chain, which depends on it.
  • The fast melting of a glacier caused by global warming, can lead to waters redirection and river drought. This phenomenon has been observed in the Yukon Territory in Canada based on a study made in August 2016 and published in Nature Geosciences, by the geographer Daniel Shugar. He went to the river Slims and then discovered that it was totally dried up. In May 2016, the Kaskawulsh glacier melted in only 4 days; which modified waters runoff. Before the melting, the glacier supplies the Kluane Lake then the Yukon River before flowing into the Bering Sea. From now on, they supply the Kaskawulsh River then the Alsek River which flows into the Pacific Ocean, at 1300 km from its original destination.
Photo by Grace Almera for 'The Essence of Life' project
Photo by Anya Anti for 'The Essence of Life' project
  • Polar bears population should drop by nearly 30% by 2050. According to a study, the International Union for Nature conservation (UICN), the ice sea loss phenomenon is increasing faster than expected, yet the ice sea allows bears to access their prey. The extension of ice-free periods could hence increase fasting periods for the species, which could cause a decline in fertility and famines. The number of slimmed and starved polar bears keeps increasing as witnessed by the German photographer Kerstin Langenberger, specifically famous for having published the photo of a bear with just skin and bones, wandering around on a drifting ice block on August 22nd in 2015. Polar bears living in the American Arctic area appear among threatened species by the Endangered Species Act.
  • Ice melting is a threat to native people, who are forced to migrate to survive.
  • Ice melting leads to a raise of seas level, which can thus bring about flooding, specifically coastal areas threatening the survival of many villages.
  • We observe a decline of drinking water resource: Drinking Water Rivers are supplied by glaciers which are melting or disappearing, which leads to a major reduction of water resource, already facing a scarcity situation in many countries.


  • The glaciers in the Alps region would have lost 25% of their surface in 12 years. 
  • In the 1980’s, 20 % of ice which constituted the Arctic ice floe was more than a year, compared to only 3% today. 
  • The Arctic ice floe surface diminishes by 13 % each decade.
  • There are only 8.6 million of km2 of ice in Antarctica, compared to 10.7 million of Km2 in regular time. 
  • The number of polar bears would have dropped by 30% in 2050 according to the International Union for Nature Conservation (UICN).
  • The UICN red list currently includes assessed 79 837 species, among which 23 250 are threatened with extinction. 
  • Antarctica is warming four time faster than the rest of the planet (17.5 degrees in March 2015- new record) between 1900 and 2011.
  • Antarctica: 17.5°C, heat record.
  • The Arctic ice floe reached ice melting records according to the National Center of Snow and Ice Data (NSIDC): it melted by 49% in 2012, meaning 3.3 million of square kilometers.
photo by Anya Anti for 'The Essence of Life' project


Photo by Anya Anti
Photo by Anya Anti
Photo by Anya Anti
Photo by Anya Anti
Photo by Anya Anti
Photo by Anya Anti
Photo by Anya Anti
Photo by Anya Anti
Photo by Anya Anti
Photo by Grace Almera
Photo by Grace Almera
Photo by Grace Almera
Photo by Grace Almera
Photo by Grace Almera
Photo by Grace Almera
Photo by Grace Almera