Extreme Ice, a temporary exhibit that documents global warming via imagery of shrinking glaciers, opened at the Museum of Science and Industry (M.S.I.) on March 23, 2017, and it will run through early 2019. According to a press release from the M.S.I., the exhibit illustrates “the immediacy of climate change and how it is altering our world.”
American photographer James Balog captured thought-provoking images over a multi-year period that showcase the dramatic extent of melting glaciers around the world. Through stunning photographic documentation and time-lapse videography of these glaciers, Extreme Ice provides guests an emotionally visual representation of climate change. This exhibit encourages and educates guests on how they can make a difference in their daily lives.
Mr. Balog is the Founder and Director of the Earth Vision Institute (E.V.I.) and Extreme Ice Survey (E.I.S.). Balog is the author of ICE: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers. He and the E.I.S. team were profiled in the P.B.S. NOVA special Extreme Ice and the Emmy®-winning documentary Chasing Ice.
In a press release, the M.S.I. stated the Extreme Ice Survey was “the most wide-ranging, ground-based, photographic study of glaciers. Extreme Ice features the EIS team’s global documentation of glacier melt—alongside other hands-on interactive and informative elements—to illustrate what is happening around the world at a rapid rate.”
“MSI has a responsibility to our guests, schools and communities to showcase exhibits that present complex scientific concepts in an accessible way,” stated Dr. Patricia Ward, Director of Science and Technology at the Museum of Science and Industry. “Extreme Ice showcases James Balog’s beautifully powerful photography to illustrate the real and alarming speed at which glaciers are melting around the world. The exhibit presents a unique and emotional way to educate guests about climate change.”
An international team comprised of scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder and Trent University in Ontario, Canada has stated that almost 200,000 glaciers have been mapped and catalogued. According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, most of these glaciers have been retreating (shrinking) since the early 20th Century due to global warming.
Balog’s E.I.S. team has used time-lapse photography to document the shrinkage of twenty-four glaciers, as visitors can see in the exhibit. The M.S.I. stated, “His team’s compelling and high-resolution footage places guests directly into settings such as Glacier National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Alps, giving everyone a chance to see the real and alarming speed at which glaciers are melting around the world.”
“It is a privilege to showcase the Extreme Ice Survey at the Museum of Science and Industry, as it is vital to engage with new audiences about climate change,” Balog stated. “Photography is one of the most powerful mediums of communication we have; visual evidence illuminates our world in a way that nothing else can.”
Artifacts on display in Extreme Ice include equipment the E.I.S. team used on expeditions, such as insulated clothing, helmets, climbing gear, and a customized camera. These illustrate for guests the physical demands the E.I.S. team members endured in remote locations and technological advances they made to take compelling pictures.
In the exhibit, visitors can also touch a seven-foot-tall ice wall. This provides a tangible connection to the footage in Extreme Ice. The M.S.I. stated the exhibit includes “maps showcasing the potential impact of coastal flooding around the world from New York to Shanghai, Copenhagen to London.” Part of the exhibit is supposed to show museum visitors “how rising temperatures will affect Chicago.” The Museum of Science and Industry promised visiting the exhibit was a chance to “Discover how bold individuals are single-handedly making radical impacts,” and “Understand the part they can play in mitigating the effects of climate change.”
Figure 1 Photo Credit: James Balog, Earth Vision Institute Caption: The fast-moving Khumbu Icefall, possibly the most dangerous route to the summit of Mount Everest, flows several feet downhill every day.
Figure 2 Photo Credit: James Balog, Earth Vision Institute Caption: This photo displays a river of meltwater formed by glacier melt in Greenland.
Figure 3 Photo Credit: Michael Brown Caption: James Balog poses in a hole called a “moulin” that formed when meltwater flowed into a crack in the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Figure 4 Photo Credit: James Balog, Earth Vision Institute Caption: This is a close-up picture of a moulin.
Figure 3 Photo Credit: James Balog, Earth Vision Institute Caption: Bridge Glacier’s shrinkage contributes to the loss of over 5,800,000,000 gallons of water from British Columbia’s glaciers every year. This photo was taken in 2009.
Figure 4 Photo Credit: James Balog, Earth Vision Institute Caption: Over the past forty years, the Bridge Glacier has retreated more than two miles, with somewhere between 75% and 90% of its ice lost due to warming temperatures causing the surface to melt. This photo was taken in 2012.
Figure 5 Photo Credit: James Balog, Earth Vision Institute Caption: As warmer temperatures heat Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, brilliant blue ponds of meltwater form on the glacier’s surface.
Figure 6 Photo Credit: Kasumi Chow, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Visitors to the Museum of Science and Industry’s exhibit Extreme Ice can see dazzling photographs of glaciers melting.
Figure 7 Photo Credit: Kasumi Chow, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: James Balog greets a young visitor at the opening event for the exhibit Extreme Ice at the Museum of Science and Industry.
Figure 8 Photo Credit: Kasumi Chow, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Visitors can learn more about James Balog’s work and how they can make a difference with interactive stations.
Figure 9 Photo Credit: Kasumi Chow, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: The Museum of Science and Industry exhibit Extreme Ice features dozens of amazing photos of global glacier melt, shot by American photographer James Balog.
Figure 10 Photo Credit: Kasumi Chow, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Visitors of all ages to the Museum of Science and Industry’s exhibit Extreme Ice are able to touch a real seven-foot-tall ice wall.
Figure 11 Photo Credit: Kasumi Chow, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Extreme Ice features a seven-foot-tall ice wall that visitors can touch.
The Aunt Marlene Foundation is presenting Extreme Ice. Major financial support also comes from the Marlott Family Foundation. The Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The Buchanan Family Foundation, Connie and Dennis Keller, and The Wareham/Elfman Family also provided funds for the exhibit.
Extreme Ice is included in Museum Entry (general admission) tickets, which are $18 for adults and teenagers and $11 for children ages three-to-eleven. One can buy tickets online in advance at https://www.msichicago.org/visit/tickets.
This time of year, the Museum of Science and Industry is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Museum of Science and Industry is located in the northeast corner of Jackson Park in the neighborhood of Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago. It stands on 57th Street at the intersection with Lake Shore Drive. The address is 5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60637.