“On the Trails of the Glaciers”, Photography and Science at the Service of the Environment

Published on Wednesday, 7 December 2016

In Rome, Enel Green Power presents the results of the expedition Andes 2016 the photographic-scientific project promoted by the Macromicro Association and conceived of by the environmental photographer Fabiano Ventura.

Climate and environmental changes are producing consequences that are not yet entirely predictable. Temperatures rise, glaciers recede and the sea level rises at a speed never before recorded, but those are only some of the effects of a process that is likely to be increasingly irreversible.

“On the Trails of the Glaciers” is a photographic-scientific project conceived of and developed by the environmental journalist Fabiano Ventura, with the goal of communicating the effects of global climate change to a wide audience through the visual experience of the recession of the most important glaciers on Earth, by comparing historical photographs from the early twentieth century.

“Enel Green Power has supported the project “On the Trails of the Glaciers” since 2009, and on 7 December 2016 will present the results of the Andes 2016 expedition, carried out in Patagonia, at the Enel Auditorium in Rome.”

A one-of-a-kind 3D model, 1,000 geo-referenced photos, processing with sophisticated software and about 10 photographic comparisons with images take from the historical archive of “Padre Alberto De Agostini”. These are only some of the results of the scientific and photographic work following the “Andes 2016” expedition.

Thanks to the organisation of expeditions heading to the planet’s most important mountain chains and to the collaboration of a technical staff and an international Scientific Committee, the project “On the Trails of the Glaciers” made it possible to carry out glaciological measurements and create new, high-resolution photographic images that faithfully reproduce (same shot, same time of year) those taken by the photographers/explorers in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Ventura followed in the footsteps of the Salesian priest, explorer, photographer and filmmaker Alberto Maria De Agostini, reproducing his splendid photographs, taken between 1910 and the mid 1950s, from the exact same vantage points and in the same season of the year.

“It is disconcerting”, the photographer commented, “that, from the comparison of the images taken by De Agostini just over eighty years ago and those taken last winter, what emerges is how immense glacial masses like those that filled the valley of the Uppsala glacier (70 km long, over 10 km wide and, at its deepest points, up to 1000m), have completely disappeared or have receded by dozens of kilometres”.

These data and others can be appreciated from the 3D model of the same glacier, developed by researchers who participated in the photographic-scientific mission that unfolded along over 1,000 km in Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia, in search of historical photographic sites.

The first four expeditions (2009 in Karakorum, 2011 in Caucasus, 2013 in Alaska, 2015/2016 in Patagonia) saw the achievement of all their goals, both in terms of data collected and comparative photographs taken, as well as in terms of the dissemination of values proposed by the project. With the same goals and the same operational methodology, the next expeditions, in the Himalayas (in 2017) and the Alps (in 2019), are being organised.