Climate change exposed by glaciers

Published on Tuesday, 6 December 2016

On December 7, 2016, the Enel headquarters in Rome will be the venue for the presentation of the scientific photography project “On the Trails of the Glaciers.” Its goal is to explain the effects of global warming through comparative photography.

The Italian photographer and mountaineer Fabiano Ventura covered over 1,000 km between the Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia from February to March 2016 as part of the expedition On the Trails of the Glaciers. His camera focused in particular on the glaciers of the Torres del Paine National Park (Chile), the Lago Argentino area and the Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina) and the Exploradores glacier (Chile).

The itinerary followed the footsteps of the Salesian priest, photographer and filmmaker Alberto Maria De Agostini with the goal of shooting photos of the same South American glacier landscapes from the same spots and angles used by De Agostini between 1910 and the mid-fifties.

This huge photographic documentation effort will make it possible to study the profound marks that time and climate change have produced in the glaciers over the last 60 years. Comparative photography is today a precious research and communication instrument. More importantly, it plays an essential role in explaining the impact of global warming and the transformations to which both the planet and humankind will have to adapt to the general public.

During the mission, 3D models of the Exploradores glacier were also created using images shot from the ground, by drones and by satellite. These are cutting-edge techniques that have been used for the first time by Italian researchers: a team of engineers and geologists have processed the images to make three-dimensional models of the glacier fronts. These are part of the GlacioVar scientific project, a program supported by DARAS, the Department of Regional Affairs, Autonomy and Sports of the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers, with the collaboration of the Geodesy and Geomatics Section of the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at La Sapienza University of Rome, the Ardito Desio Department of Earth Sciences at the State University of Milan and the Macromicro Association.

The expedition, led by Ventura and consisting of a team of photographers, filmmakers and researchers, was supported by Enel Green Power, the renewable energy division of Enel. On Wednesday, December 7th, an event will be held in Rome, at the Group headquarters, on Viale Regina Margherita, to present the initial results.

The meeting will be attended by Ventura, as well as by Enel CEO Francesco Starace, Prof. Claudio Smiraglia, scientific coordinator of the project, and the scientific directors of the GlacioVar project, Mattia Crespi, La Sapienza University of Rome, and Guglielmina Diolaiuti, University of Milan.

The 2016 adventure in the Andes is part of the broader project On the Trails of the Glaciers, created by Ventura and promoted by Macromicro, a non-profit association, which has already taken the photographer to Alaska, the Caucasus and the Karakorum to document the effects of global warming on glaciers, comparing the photos taken today with those made by photographers and documentary filmmakers of the past like Vittorio Sella, Massimo Terzano, Ardito Desio, Moritz Von Dechy and William Osgood Field.

After the Andes mission, the project will continue in 2017 with expeditions to the Himalayas and end in 2019 on the Alps.