A new series of photos from the Himalaya reveal the undeniable effects of global climate change on the glaciers there. This is especially evident on Mt. Everest, where comparative shots from 1921 show just how much the Rongbuk Glacier has retreated over the past 89 years.
Filmmaker and mountaineer David Breashears made the journey to Everest’s North Side, where explorer George Mallory once took a very famous photo of the mountain. Standing in the very spot where Mallory once shot his image, Breashears took a new one, and the differences between the two are startling. In the earlier photo, a thick layer of snow and ice stretches far down the valley, but in the one taken by Breashears, the glacier has withered dramatically. In fact, the Rongbuk has lost more than 320 vertical feet since Mallory shot his photo.
Over the past few years, Breashears has visited a number of other famous mountains throughout Nepal, Tibet, and Pakistan as well. While there, he took similar photos, and each case he discovered a significant loss of glacial ice, which is particularly troubling considering that the Himalayan glaciers are the Earth’s largest sub-polar ice reserves. The loss of that ice has already had a direct and profound impact on the mountains and the people that live there, many of whom now have to walk for hours each day just to find fresh water.
Breashears has taken his collection of photos and created an exhibit known as Rivers of Ice, which just went on display last week at the Asia Society, located in Manhattan. The photos will be open to the public to see until August 15, giving visitors a chance to witness the changes for themselves.
[Photo credit: AFP]