on March 21, 2010
This recent documentary has many aspects to recommend it. For one thing, the film footage is beautiful and breathtaking. For another, the film's message is extremely urgent: the effect of today's global warming specifically on the world's ice.
In a nice personal touch, the film follows one particular athlete-photographer as he travels the world to shoot footage of "extreme ice." The title makes it sound like some extreme sport, and indeed it is for him, as he performs daring feats in his noble quest to photograph the "inside story" of global warming processes.
For example, the documentary features close-up footage of bright blue rivers of meltwater racing over Greenland's glaciers under the summer sun. The rivers are absolutely gorgeous. But then we see their horrible fate, as they plunge into gaping holes in the glacial surface and tumble into seemingly bottomless caverns. The photographer actually dangles down into one of them, trying in vain to see any bottom to it.
Of course, thousands of feet below, unseen, all that meltwater finally hits bedrock. There it acts as a lubricant, easing the movement of the glaciers atop the rock in their inexorable slide to the sea (gravity does the rest). The effect is like that of the millimeter of oil which lets pistons slide easily up and down in their cylinders. Only, the glaciers just keep sliding down into the sea - they don't return to land again.
That lubrication factor, we learn, is only one of those behind the glacial melting now accelerating on Greenland (and elsewhere). Another is the increasing warmth of the sea water itself there in and around the Arctic, now several degrees warmer than it was just a few decades ago. This contributes even more to the thawing, the glacial glide, and the rising seas worldwide.
Greenland's situation is especially worrisome for at least three reasons: 1. Its thick glaciers contain vastly more ice mass than does the thin ice sheet over the Arctic ocean (which is melting even faster); 2. That glacial ice, if or when it all slips into the sea, would definitely raise sea levels worldwide (up to 20 feet higher than at present); and 3. Greenland, unlike the purely polar ice, stretches way down into relatively warm latitudes (60 North: equivalent to the northern tip of Scotland), where air and water temps will soon get even warmer.
All of this portends disaster for humankind, of course, starting seriously within just another decade or two. Terrible effects are already certain, but we can still stave off the worst ones, with careful planning and concerted effort.
on June 9, 2009
This is a truly frightening video. I saw it on PBS. It shows the actual melting of ice on both the northern and southern ends of our planet. The people who made this film truly had courage. There is an element of horror watching a man lower himself into a giant hole in the ice hundreds of feet deep. The footage from Greenland was particularly disturbing, showing how holes in the ice are now opening up inland as the ice melts and water pours from under the ice to the sea. The staff of this show deserves a lot of credit for the courage they showed in going out and getting this footage for us.
on November 2, 2009
The combination of art and science is powerful in portraying the most important phenomena of our time, the disappearance of the arctic ice, the canary in the global warming coal mine. The art is grand. The science validates the story. Together they make a gripping drama that today seems far away but in reality is on a fast track to tarnish and threaten our lives.
This NOVA special presents results of the Extreme Ice Project in which time lapse cameras take hourly photos of glaciers for periods of a year or longer. These images together with results of scientific investigations of polar ice caps, glaciers, and mountain glaciers, paint a vivid picture of the increasing rate of global ice melting compared to just one decade ago.
The discoveries of the increased rates of mountain glacier declines, and the forming and draining of Greenlands surface ice melt lakes is alarming.
I know that there are many people out there that believe that global warming is a hoax or a politicized issue, but scientific work, observations, and conclusions going back five decades are showing an increasingly clear picture of what is going on with the planet, and its climate.
Ice is melting! And, faster than it can form.
Thanks for a fantastic glimpse into this important global historical event!
Alan Holyoak. PhD
Former Director of Environmental Studies, Manchester College
on December 25, 2013
The result of the speed of this glacier breakup could lead to extreme flooding on coastlines and island nations around the world. If you live near a coastline, I highly recommend this DVD. It appears that global warming could occur sooner than was expected. For example, Glacier National Park no longer has glaciers. Fortunately I live in Sacramento, which is about halfway between the Pacific Coast and Lake Tahoe.
Alright, I will warn you about this documentary (it's great by the way, so just stay with me on this). For me, this video gave me information that I kind of wish I didn't know. They did a substantial amount of research on site of the ice caps and their discoveries are quite disturbing.
With the glacial melting and the CO2 levels reaching record highs, the outlook for the future of global climate and sea level are not looking super pleasant, especially on the coast. This is an eye opener.