Climate Photo of the Week
Tropical forest trees and mountain wildflowers are in motion, glaciers are not just receding but completely disappearing, pushed by rapid climate change.
World View of Global Warming's photo locations of 10 and 15 years ago show significant change seen in repeats made this summer.
In 1999, at the beginning of World View of Global Warming, photojournalist Gary Braasch made a repeat photo of Broggi Glacier in the Peruvian Andes, finding that the glacier had receded about a kilometer in sixty-six years. Fifteen years later, this July, Braasch again trekked up to 4600 m to photograph the Broggi Glacier – but now the glacier is completely gone. That glacier, which in the 1932 photo filled the valley at center-left of the ridge and in 1999 was a patch of ice on the headwall, has melted away -- nothing there but the rocky cirque and a set of tiny tarns. Glaciologists think hundreds of glaciers may have disappeared since the Little Ice Age, but it is rare to have a direct record of one completely gone. Glacier loss in the equatorial Andes is accelerating, cutting off up to sixty percent of the water flowing down valley according to scientists who were at work in Peru when Braasch was there – a loss to Peru’s rivers and the people, farms and hydroelectric uses below. Portfolio and story to come.
In Peru’s Amazon, trees are migrating upslope as temperature rises. Here in the upper Amazon Basin of Peru, lowlands stretch out from the tropical highlands of the Rio Cosnipata, in Manu National Park, a region where there are more species of trees on a hectare than there are in all of North America. A study here lead by Miles Silman and Kenneth Feeley shows some trees are moving upslope to cooler habitats at an average rate of 2.5 to 3.5 m per year -- seeds being successful upslope while old trees die out below – but the scientists have estimated the rate of change needed to match the rampant warming is about 6 meters a year. Work here measuring thousands of trees to gauge their growth and calculate their biomass contributed to a new inventory of carbon stored in Peru's ecosystems. This forest is one of the deepest reservoirs of sequestered carbon on our planet, giving new value to forest protection and international negotiation over Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). Full details and photos coming soon.
World View of Global Warming is traveling widely this summer to revisit scenes of major images which made the project a success. There are many visible and significant changes in 10-15 years and less. We are next rephotographing alpine flower and ecosystem research on Shrankogel mountain, Austria, a key site in a world-wide network of mountain studies, photographed in 2004. This research project reported that regional warming of 2 degrees C is causing cold-adapted wildflowers and grasses to try to grow higher on the mountainsides, often not finding suitable habitat. Thus, alpine ecosystems are being disrupted as climate change intensifies. Life zones and ecological systems are being fragmented and rearranged as plants and animals try to adapt in individual ways to changes far faster than had been normal.
Other recent stories available on World View of Global Warming
A lone scientist reveals the meaning of a melting Arctic Ocean: “You don’t have to care about Arctic seabirds or pack ice,” George Divoky told World View of Global Warming, because the Arctic is not the only place where climate change is causing problems. “Species are struggling to deal with it,” he says, “and we are going to be in the same situation.” Please see story and portfolio here.
In the Pacific Northwest, the oyster industry, with an $84 million yearly value and 3,000 employees, is already seeing and reacting to the effects of unhealthy ocean water.
Story and photos here.
Locations documented by Gary Braasch in World View of Global Warming, 1999-2012
This project would be impossible without scientists and observers around the world who have provided hundreds of scientific contacts and papers. See Background, Advisors, and Reference for documentation, funders and major advisors, without whom I could not complete the work.
World View of Global Warming is a project of the Blue Earth Alliance, Seattle Washington, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. The project is supported entirely by donations, grants, and license fees for the photographs. Please see information about how to contribute.
For other information about Gary Braasch's climate change projects and books, please see the books Earth Under Fire and How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate, and the exhibit "Climate Change in Our World" at the Books and Exhibits link on the left menu here.
Photography and text Copyright © 2005 - 2014 (and before) Gary Braasch All rights reserved. Use of photographs in any manner without permission is prohibited by US copyright law. Photography is available for license to publications and other uses. Please contact email@example.com. View more of Gary Braasch's photography here.