The above image appeared in The Irish Independent‘s Weekend Magazine, on April 2013, as part of Behind the Lens, a series where the editors ask “Ireland’s best known photographers to send us a shot of their proudest work and explain in a few lines why it’s their favourite piece. ”
So, here’s what I wrote:
Sleeping Dragon, Kangerdlugssuaq Fjord, East Greenland, 2009.
I keep returning to this image of the Sleeping Dragon – sometimes on my own, sometimes through the eyes of others, who take personal impressions from the photograph that I never could. On a practical level it’s weatherworn iceberg, calved from a fast-moving Greenland glacier. The sunlight filtered by a cloud of fog has made the image almost monochrome – but, this is actually a color picture made from a passing ship, as fog was burned off by the Arctic sun. The photograph freezes a moment in time, but that moment is all about change; perhaps when humans began understanding how they are altering the planet’s climate mechanisms through CO2 emissions and pollution. Today, this iceberg will not look the same as it did in 2009, which is a natural phenomenon – ice forms and melts. However, it is the rate of change in the Arctic that is alarming – all thanks to our insistence on warming up the planet.
This iceberg is calved from Kangerdlussuaq glacier, the largest glacier on the east coast of Greenland’s ice sheet and probably the world’s fastest moving glacier. Kangerdlugssuaq tripled its speed between 2004 and 2005, and is now rapidly moving mass out of the middle of Greenland’s ice sheet, in the form of icebergs. This has urgent implications for both the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet, and for the rate of sea level rise globally. Taken from the deck of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, during a 2009 expedition to investigate the effects of climate change in the Arctic.