Little Man, Big Glacier

ALPENTRÄUME - Ch. 3 - Glaciers

Alpenträume’ is a collection of images found- often unintentionally -while wandering throughout the Swiss Alps. The dream (Traum) of an image is usually accompanied by a nightmare (Alptraum) of a quest. Excursions often take hours of walking, weeks of planning, and sometimes years until the right scene reveals itself. They might include falling trees, rockfall, getting lost, and surprisingly often, an encounter with a particularly angry cow.

The Alpenträume collection of 42 images was presented in a photo exhibition in Sept./Oct. 2018 at the AWCZ in Zürich, Switzerland.

The images in this selected chapter represent an especially difficult quest for photographing;  glaciers are formidable places, at high altitudes, with deadly crevasses surrounded by treacherous terrain. They demand great respect by their sheer size, yet are incredibly vulnerable to the effect of man.

Steingletscher, Urner Alps, Switzerland. 2018

Steingletscher, Urner Alps, Switzerland. 2018

Glaciers have been retreating and advancing for millions of years, even without the influence of humans. 20,000 years ago, Switzerland was almost completely covered by ice. What has been extraordinary in the last 150 years, however, is the incredible rate at which the atmosphere warms up and the glaciers retreat.

Steingletscher, Urner Alps, Switzerland. 2018

Steingletscher, Urner Alps, Switzerland. 2018

Steingletscher, Urner Alps, Switzerland. 2018

Steingletscher, Urner Alps, Switzerland. 2018

Steingletscher, Urner Alps, Switzerland. 2018

Steingletscher, Urner Alps, Switzerland. 2018

From afar, the view of a glacier reminds us of the beauty of Nature. When looked at closely, the ice reveals colors and textures, but also hold immense historical data. Glaciers are among the best natural climate indicators and are a key element in monitoring climate change.

Hüfifirn, Glarus Alps, Switzerland. 2017

Hüfifirn, Glarus Alps, Switzerland. 2017

The current rise in temperature is far beyond anything known in Earth’s history, and this increase correlates with the emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere, which have risen sharply with the combustion of fossil fuels.

Hüfifirn, Glarus Alps, Switzerland. 2017

Hüfifirn, Glarus Alps, Switzerland. 2017

Gornergletscher, Monte Rosa Massif, Switzerland. 2017

Gornergletscher, Monte Rosa Massif, Switzerland. 2017

Within 166 years half of Switzerland's glacial mass has melted. Even with the greatest efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, 80 to 90 percent of the Swiss ice masses would be lost by 2100.

Gornergletscher, Monte Rosa Massif, Switzerland. 2017

Gornergletscher, Monte Rosa Massif, Switzerland. 2017

Each year the glaciers shift along the bedrock, each serac slowly crawling and crumbling toward the heat of the valley, each piece defrosting and deforming until eventually it becomes the water that feeds the rivers along the way.

Steinwasser, Urner Alps, Switzerland. 2015

Steinwasser, Urner Alps, Switzerland. 2015

Lower parts of Glaciers always melt in the heat of summer. However, the overall ice mass has been declining since the peak of the Little Ice Age around 1850. Data shows that this decline in mass is due to significantly rising temperatures. In addition, changes in snowfall and solar radiation also influence the speed of the melt.

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