Swansea University Geography Professor Adrian Luckman recently took a trip to the Arctic with British singer songwriter Ellie Goulding.
Professor Luckman, whose research on the Larsen C ice-shelf in Antarctica made headlines around the world in 2017, explains how this came about:
“WWF invited Ellie to Ilulissat in West Greenland in September 2017 to learn about ice sheet and glacier changes, and to gather some interviews with local environment agencies and footage to help her promote EarthHour 2018.
During the week we visited the ice-fjord, a World Heritage site, went out on boats to see icebergs and whales up close, and took a trip to see the calving margin of Jakobshavn Isbrae, Greenland's largest and fastest glacier."
Picture: Ellie Goulding, who went to Greenland with Swansea University glaciologist Prof Adrian Luckman as part of a WWF visit for Earth Hour
Ellie Goulding, speaking to Stylist magazine, described her reaction to what she saw:
“The effects of climate change on an area like Greenland are easy to see as it is on the frontline of change. We saw one of the largest glaciers in the world and learnt that it is retreating at an unprecedented speed, meaning the sea level is rising at a rate never seen before.
We also saw some stunning scenery – the light bouncing off the icebergs was truly breathtaking. It breaks my heart to know that this precious part of the world is changing beyond recognition.”
Professor Luckman said his role was to 'interpret' the landscape for Ellie, her PA, and Gareth Redmond-King, the WWF trip leader:
“I explained about the role of glaciers and iceberg calving in the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet, discussed the long-term and recent changes being seen at Jakobshavn, and put it all in the global climate change context.
While out and about, I explained what we were seeing, including glacier dimensions and features, evidence of ocean-ice interactions, iceberg activity and the glacial landscape.”
The team were there with an important mission: to promote Earth Hour in conjunction with WWF. But they were also struck by the extraordinary beauty of the place.
Professor Luckman said:
“Having never looked over the Jakobshavn fjord, I hugely enjoyed seeing the spectacle of icebergs that it presents and to help the others interpret what they were seeing.
The opportunity to visit the great calving cliff of Jakobshavn Glacier by helicopter was a superb highlight, and something I had longed to see for many years since publishing on this glacier. We also had superb boat trips, wonderful sunsets, and on the final night, a glimpse of the Northern Lights."
Picture: the rift in the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica, which was tracked by Project MIDAS, led by Swansea University's Prof Luckman. When it split away, it created one of the world's biggest icebergs, weighing a trillion tonnes. Credit NASA/John Sonntag
Professor Luckman believes that celebrity figures, especially those active on social media with a huge following, are in a unique position to influence others:
“Some celebrity figures make a great effort to use this influence in a positive way, and I admire Ellie's careful and sustained campaign to raise awareness about environmental issues.
By teaming up with WWF around the EarthHour initiative, she is doing a great work in helping to persuade thousands of people to think about energy usage, and to care about the environment.
I was delighted to be able to play a very small part in this brilliant campaign.”
Swansea University College of Science
Earth Hour 2018
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