The temporary nature of glaciers

Seeing a glacier in real life is like seeing behind the scenes of the world; the pure geological strength of the planet displayed in front of you. Glaciers are the remnants of the cold carving knife that shaped the landscape millions of years ago, forging valleys and shaping mountains, and a stark reminder of the forces of our environment and the ways in which it’s changed over time.

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Franz Josef glacier, Dec 2016

I was lucky enough to see the Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand last December, having committed to an eight-hour hike scrambling up rocks and wading through mountain streams to capture this view. The sun appeared momentarily, and the blue hues glistened like the surface of a marble, captivating the people at the viewpoint around me.

The sheer size of it was dizzying, a couple of helicopters passed by loaded with tourists heading on hikes across the glacier, and by the time these were landing on the ice, the helicopters were barely visible to the naked eye.

Another dizzying sight was the egregious geographical demonstration of climate change; this has stuck with me ever since. From the viewpoint, it was possible to see the path where the glacier used to be, now nothing more than a barren valley. Glacial retreat in New Zealand, and other parts of the world, is happening at an alarming rate in response to global warming.

For me, this photo doesn’t only show the beauty of the natural world, but also the temporary nature of this beauty, and also other aspects of the world we live in. Something so big and powerful, with the ability to shape the landscape, is still fragile, capable of being impacted by human activity and very much temporary.

This post was in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.



Nov 2017


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