Chasing Ice: One man's mission to capture disappearing glacial vistas and highlight climate change (+Video)

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

The documentary film Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s obsession to capture the history of the changing glacial landscape as it disappears from the Arctic. Popular Mechanics reports on the journeys of James Balrog, an accomplished photographer and mountaineer, whose interest in climate change served as a catalyst to the mission to “change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of climate change,” according to the film’s website.

Balrog’s original plan was to create time-lapse videos by compressing the images captured by 25 cameras set up across Iceland, Greenland and Alaska that would take a photograph every hour during daylight. Balrog tells Popular Mechanics that at one point, they had 43 cameras, each snapping a picture every half-hour. The result is a time-lapse photographic work that turns years into seconds and captures of the extraordinary rate that glaciers are disappearing from the Earth.

“There’s a powerful piece of history that’s unfolding in these pictures,” Balrog says in the movie trailer.

The film is also the story of pushing the boundaries of physical and technological limitations. Their adventure is rife with frustrations of failing equipment, as some cameras quit working in temperatures of minus 40, while others are crushed and buried under ice and snow. The frustration is palpable in the trailer: “All of that obsession means nothing if it doesn’t work,” Balrog says.

Balrog’s obsession seems to know no limits: The adventurer is shown limping through the snow on injured knees and climbing out onto the splintered edge of a glacier to get a picture of a rushing waterfall.

The trailer shows a film chock-full of stunning visuals and breathtaking landscapes, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the film won Sundance Film Festival’s  2012 Excellence in Cinematography award for a U.S. Documentary.

Read more, here, and check out the movie trailer below.