Each summer, as the air warms and sunlight spills over the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, lakes of brilliant blue meltwater form on the white surface. This breathtakingly beautiful landscape is terrifying at the same time. Over the past few decades, the rate of melting has accelerated significantly, and these deep blue lakes are taking up more and more of the ice sheet.
These pictures were taken by photographer Timo Lieber, who documented the natural phenomenon.
“I have always had a passion for ice,” Lieber tells The Guardian. “I’ve been to Iceland seven or eight times, as well as Arctic Norway and Greenland. Greenland’s contribution to global sea level rise is about three times that of Antarctica. I saw how quickly landscapes change and decided to capture this process in photographs.”
Timo Lieber flew over the vast Greenland ice landscape in a small twin-engine aircraft. The pilot gently tilted the plane, allowing Lieber to take pictures through a tiny hole in the window.
“The images are deliberately abstract,” Lieber said. “I didn’t want them to be documentary photographs. You have to peer to find the little hidden details that give you the real picture of what’s going on. These landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful, but at the same time terrifying, as these are the processes of climate change at its worst. My favorite is the eye-like lake. This blue semicircle symbolizes global warming, which seems to be looking at you.”
Melted water bodies play an important role in the birth of small icebergs. During the melting process, cracks form in the ice, as detailed by Robert Simmon from the NASA Observatory:
“Cracks in the glacier deliver water deep into the ice sheet, sometimes even to the base of the rock, where the water lubricates the lowest layers of ice. Lubricated ice moves faster towards the ocean, forming a large number of icebergs. The net result is a large loss in ice mass, which would be significant less without the influence of melt water flows.“
A complete collection of Timo Lieber’s photographs, titled “The Thaw”, will be available to view in London from 20 to 24 February. Continuing the theme, also admire the wonders of the ice world in a separate photo tape.