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by Larry

March, 2014

Kudos for "Chasing Ice"

Not well known is that the polar regions are heating up much faster than Earth's surface as a whole. Since 1900, this has resulted in increases in average temperature in the Arctic and Antarctic of about 10° Fahrenheit (about 5-6° Centigrade). World renowned professional photographer James Balog wanted to know what that meant. It is hard simply from a statement of the numbers to get an idea of the impact. He established a complex multi-camera and multi-year project, Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), for the monitoring of ice in Montana, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, and other northern regions, and waited for what would be revealed.

Calving front of Greenland glacier (Wikipedia)
There were many setbacks, including that his camera memory devices would not work in the severe environmental conditions, his timers would often fail to trigger the remote cameras to take the vital shots needed, ice would break off or move and so shift the positions of his cameras or bury them, and his own knees proved vulnerable to the rigors of this unforgiving form of exploration, so he required multiple surgeries, at one point was only negotiating the glaciers with dual canes, and finally could not go where his assistants did to take some of the breathtaking pictures their endeavor eventually succeeded in obtaining. Despite the challenges, he and his team did in the end accomplish what they had set out to do.

Meanwhile, a great filmmaker, Jeff Orlowski, took an interest in the EIS findings and determined to create a documentary based on Balog's footage. Orlowski's team added depth and perspective to the abundant photography from the Balog group's efforts. The outcome of this combined labor was the 2012 Sundance Film Festival winner, "Chasing Ice," spectacular in its drama and beauty. It has garnered over thirty awards.

"Chasing Ice" DVDs are readily available for rent from local libraries, through Netflix or via Amazon, and/or (perhaps an excellent gift idea) for purchase through various online and physical store outlets. To whet your appetite for this movie, you might glance at the amazing still shots revealed in a slide show at the "Chasing Ice" website.

Your editors have no vested interest in the film. However, Valerie and I saw it a few days ago when shown by a north Austin neighborhood association and thought it terrific, its scope and imagery stunning. Here among other things you will see the largest ever recorded glacier calving, miles of glacier recessions in reasonably short periods of time, awesome time-lapse environmental photography, beautiful aurora borealis displays, superb computer graphics to make relevant concepts clear, and almost other worldly panoramic or artistic imagery of frozen and liquid water relationships.

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