Into the Delta is a more recent project meant to explore the ecosystems and landscapes on the planet that are most vulnerable to climate change. My focus has become more and more centered on water as this element is at the crux as weather is altered by human activity. We exist in a closed system where water takes only a few forms- ice, liquid or gas. None escapes the small bubble in which we exist. It is only altered. But these alterations have remarkable impact on the way every living thing functions on the planet. Too much can render a place uninhabitable by animals or humans. Too little can deprive an ecosystem of all but the most tenacious of plants and creatures.
My most recent travels have been to the arctic where warming is highest and impact most evident. Glaciers recede and deflate visibly from one year to the next, adding water to the oceans and changing everything from currents to precipitation everywhere else. Eqi Glacier had lost 2 kilometers of length and over 100 meters in height in the two years prior to my visit which was clearly marked on the lateral moraines of the glacier. This was my first opportunity to photograph a landscape in such an in depth way, from the tiniest of plants and lichens to grand vistas of the glacier and the ice sheet that blankets most of Greenland.
The next chapter of Into the Delta will be to journey the length of the Colorado River. The waters of this river provide the lifeblood for huge numbers of humans and animals. It is used and abused as it travels from North-Western Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico and it is particularly vulnerable to changes in climate and pollution.
A visit to Eqi Glacier in Fall 2017 was my first in depth look at a full ecosystem. Traveling with The Arctic Arts Project and Untitled Filmworks to document this remote landscape provided an opportunity to see how everything fit together, from the tiniest of lichens to sweeping vistas of the glacier and the Ice Sheet that covers most of Greenland.
These images are taken in Eastern Greenland where most travel is by boat or plane as roads are scarce in this sparsely populated region. On the edge of the arctic circle, changes in the environment have meaningful and swift impact with glaciers receding visibly from year to year, methane bubbling from previous frozen soils and changes in seasonal patterns that alter the ways humans and animals interact with the environment. It is also startlingly and starkly beautiful in its subtle colors, massive amounts of ice, both on and off the water and vast mountain ranges.
Iceland, oh Iceland. One of the most beautiful places on the planet with deep mosses, high mountains, a desert interior and glaciers. Iceland is vulnerable to any changes in climate as the glaciers get smaller and the rain can wash away mountain sides and roads. The small population is hearty and welcoming. Reykjavich is a cultural center with art everywhere. As long as you can handle some crappy roads and hectic river crossings, Iceland is a dream.
Alaska is an astonishing place. The scale and diversity of the landscape stun at every turn. From great swathes of tundra to giant peaks, it is a hard place to leave. My travels took me to Central and South-Central Alaska. The glaciers here vary in their stability. Climate change has yet to reveal itself in the southern parts of the state in the same way it has the more northern reaches. Seeing this place, it feels solid and invulnerable, but it is just a matter of time before the fingers of change creep south to lay hands on this part of the state.
The deserts of the western US are magnificent and dramatic landscapes. Red, yellow and white stone rise in towering cliffs and formations that were formed long ago by water, now absent. There are tough plants here that can survive long, hot summers, fueled by the moisture they gather in winter. These are some of the most vulnerable areas in the country to climate change. A precarious balance has evolved that is easily disrupted. What can survive with less water or a deluge is difficult to know.