BLOG: Polar Investigations (2012-2015)

  • WELCOME TO MY 2015 ANTARTICA AND PATAGONIAN ENTRIES....

    It is Saturday January 17th and I have finally completed my entires about my most recent investigation.... There are 13 separate ones describing my expeditions to Antarctica and the Patagonian Ice Field of Argentina. I suggest scrolling down to the beginning in order to get a chronological sense of the journey from December 27, 2014 to January 11, 2015.

    portrait 2

    Please visit my sites: www.dianeburkophotography.com and www.dianeburko.com  In the months to come. I hope you will see how this incredible experience influences my practice at the intersection of art and science where I communicate issues of Climate Change. With every investigation I make – the reality of our predicament intensifies. The threat is real – I am witnessing it and hope my art can contribute to positive change.

  • UPSALA GLACEIR - NEXT FROM ABOVE on JANUARY 10, 2015

    Seeing this glacier from above was the last challenge of my expedition  witnessing  indications of climate change.  To get to our overlook destination we first landed on the Park shoreline known as Christina Ranch which was originally settled by the British MacMaster family in the  early 1900's to breed sheep.   All the passengers were then packed into crude 4x4 vehicles parked along  80 year old Lake William.

    lake William
    We formed a convoy of about 4 vehicles each loaded with 12 individuals.  Slowly we  wound,  lurched and crept up a steep, bumpy  dirt road.  Luckily there were subway like poles above to hang onto.

    photo 1
    We were climbing up a granite mountainside which had been covered twenty thousand years before with glacial ice.   And 500 million years  before that,  it was a flat sea bed - still part of Gondwana -  before it tectonically was pushed into the mountain ranges and valleys of ice today.

    Evidence of this geological phenomena were all around us under our feet in...fossils were embedded everywhere. 

    In 15 minutes we all walked from the vehicles to the edge of the cliff. 

    The harsh powerful winds of Patagonia finally greeted us with ferocity as we scrambled up the embankments, trying to get a secure  footing to take photographs.

    UPSALA_2
    We then turned back down, loaded into our trucks and headed to lunch at the Christina Ranch on William Lake...

     

  • UPSULA GLACIER - (first by water) on JANUARY 10

    We left the hotel by 7:30 in the morning to catch an 8:30  boat heading north on Lake Argentino into the northern channel towards the Upsala Glacier. It, like Viedma and Perito Moreno flows from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Upsala used to be the largest glacier of the three we visited  but has lost enough in the last ten years to cede that position to Viedma.  It is known for its rapid retreat. This repeat image shows this history:

    then-and-now-chooyu
    However, while this glacier is melting,  Perito Moreno has remained stable.The glaciers i visited don't all demonstrate consistent evidence of global warming. Climate science emphatically agrees that we are at a tipping point - but its complicated -  more research is needed in this part of the world.

    We traveled up the lake,  passing though a narrow opening to the North Channel to view its icebergs and get close to the front. The only access this glacier is by boat....ferry to U
    We were on the water for over two hours slowly approaching the front of the glacier passing many incredible iceberg formations.

    glacier by boat
    Through all my polar expeditions, wherever there are glaciers,  I am greeted with a complexity,  and variety of forms combining into magnificent compositions.

    BERG PATTERNS
    There are always different unique and magical images to capture.

    iceberg-U
    After that ride we landed on shore to pile into crude 4x4 vehicles to mount a long  bumpy trail up to a look out on William Lake which just formed about 80 years ago.

  • PERITO MORENO GLACIER - Janauary 9

    When first planning our Patagonian expedition I thought of only visiting the fabled Perito Moreno Glacier with its three mile front named after the explorer Francisco Moreno.

    Franceso Moreno

    He was a pioneer who studied the region in the 19th century and played a major role in defending the territory of Argentina in the conflict surrounding the international border dispute with Chile.

    I planned to photograph it as I traversed on foot and also from the air.  However, neither of those goals came to pass....I learned upon landing in El Calafate that sadly, the sole pilot had perished with his helicopter three weeks earlier, and there were strict rules preventing anyone over 65 (no matter how fit) from being allowed to climb...

    Ironically, an even more thrilling climbing experience happened  for me the day before on the amazing  Viedma glacier. It seems that Perito Moreno, where over 500 tourists trek daily in high season - was way easier.  So instead of climbing and flying,  we first drove to the National Park's elaborate viewing platforms to see the huge front.

    platform 2
    It's 20 mile deep body extended slowly  back into the ice field, vanishing into the clouds.

    longThere were a few calvings as well contributing to an incredible collection of ice along its edge.

    PM_front

    PM MelangeThe melange of ice was moving as we watched from various levels along the walk down. We were standing on Magellan's Peninsula where to the right was the north end of the glacier, while to the left we could see the spit of land which in the past had been joined to the glacier thus dividing the body of water in two. This phenomenon happens periodically . When the pressure produced by the height of the dammed water breaks through the ice barrier   - it causes a  spectacular rupture sending a massive outpouring of water from the Brazo Rico section to the main body of Lake Argentina.  This dam–ice-bridge–rupture cycle recurs naturally  and happened last on January 19th 2013.  We saw a great film about it in the Glaciarium  Museum in Calafate.

    rupture
    After spending about 45 minutes there we got back in our car to take a boat to the southern face  getting  closer to the front. We were now on the other side of the land mass we had just been on.

    other side
    Here was an opportunity  to see  the front at almost eye level.

    south sideAnd  what a colossal site it was...

    up front