In search of the lost glaciers

Published on Friday, 16 December 2016

“The results of this research will allow scientists to obtain a clear general picture of the state of the glaciers that will tell us without doubt that glaciers are shrinking in the Karakorum, in Alaska, in the Caucasus and in the Andes”

– Claudio Smiraglia, scientific director of the "On the Trails of the Glaciers” project

The photographer-mountaineer, energy and the planet's fever

“The aim of my project is to bear witness to the distress of the glaciers, to communicate the urgent need to change course and to raise the awareness of broader sections of public opinion on the consequences of climate change and on the responsibility of humans”.

“The Earth has not been given to us as a gift from our forebears, but on loan from our children”

– Fabiano Ventura, photographer and mountaineer

“Nature teaches us humility and respect; its strength transcends any possible forecast. It is no longer possible to exploit it without respecting it”.

During the event, this concept was also stressed by Enel CEO Francesco Starace: “We look at the planet as it changes because of human activities, but we seldom stop to think about how humankind has changed. On the Trails of the Glaciers is actually a project that follows the footsteps of photographers and each expedition involves a huge preparation effort. Shooting photos of the glaciers by going back to the same places almost a century later, in the same spot, looking for the same stones, on the same day and at the same time is the true essence of this research project that transcends climate and the planet to embrace humankind. They are beautiful yet tragic photos”. 

“The planet’s fever is now a glaring fact. We must eliminate greenhouse gases. Our commitment as an energy company is to reduce CO2 emissions as much as possible by making our plants more efficient, promoting electric mobility, delivering electricity and replacing fossil fuels, wherever possible, with renewable energy sources”

– Francesco Starace, Enel CEO

Sustainability and innovation in the glaciers

During the Andes 2016 expedition, over a thousand photos were shot, georeferenced and uploaded into a software to obtain a 3D model so that the glaciers can be visited virtually, thus enabling researchers to remotely observe and measure shapes and geometries and compare them with other 3D models developed by satellite imagery. All the technologies were developed as part of the GlacioVar scientific project which is funded by the Italian Government, in collaboration with La Sapienza University of Rome, the State University of Milan and the Macromicro Association. In addition to the most modern digital cameras, Ventura also took shots with analogue cameras to obtain the same focal distortion and to be able to perfectly overlay the images. The project will close in 2020, at the end of another two expeditions, one to the Himalayas and the last to the Alps.