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« Le grand dégel » : Les images impressionnantes du réchauffement climatique en Antarctique

antarctique

Habitué à couvrir les manifestations du monde arabe, Paolo Pellegrin a photographié cette fois-ci un autre type de conflit : le réchauffement climatique. | © Time / Instagram

Environnement

L’Antarctique est loin d’être à l’abri du changement climatique. Fonte, crevasses, transparence… La mer autrefois blanche devient bleue. Et c’est inquiétant pour le monde entier. 

Alors qu’elle était relativement imperméable au réchauffement climatique, l’Antarctique a rejoint la longue liste d’endroits touchés par ce dernier. Les conséquences sont désormais bien visibles. En juillet dernier, un iceberg géant, soixante fois plus grand que Paris, s’est détach du continent. Il faisait partie d’une gigantesque barrière de glace nommée « Larsen C » qui, à l’ouest de l’Antarctique, retient des glaciers capables de faire gagner dix centimètres aux mers du monde. « Les dommages causés à la glace ne se produisent pas seulement d’en haut, car l’air de la planète se réchauffe, mais aussi d’en bas, comme les océans se réchauffent aussi », rapporte le TIME qui a publié des images à la fois impressionnantes et inquiétantes de ce grand dégel.

Lire aussi > L’Antarctique menacée par une invasion de plantes et d’insectes

It’s hard to wreck a continent you can barely get your hands on. Human beings typically do our worst environmental damage in the places we live and work—clear-cutting forests, strip-mining mountains. #Antarctica, however, was more or less out of reach. No more. @nasa has long employed satellites to monitor weather and climate from space; from 2003 to 2010, one that circled the Earth in a north-south orbit got no lower than 364 miles above ground. The most detailed work requires getting a lot closer. NASA’s IceBridge mission—an annual series of flights over both polar regions, surveying the state of the ice—fills that gap. Over the course of eight- to 12-hour expeditions, the flights maintain an average cruising altitude of just 1,500 ft.—and sometimes much lower. In November, during a nine-day expedition over the west Antarctic peninsula, photo­journalist @pellegrinpaolo rode along on the four-engine P-3B airplane that conducted the surveys. The images Pellegrin brought home are stark, scary, beautiful and otherworldly—almost literally. Read the full International cover story on TIME.com. Photograph by @pellegrinpaolo—@magnumphotos for TIME #climatechange

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La réelle menace

Au fur et à mesure qu’elle fond et disparait du continent, la glace qui recouvre l’Antarctique élève le niveau des mers du monde entier. Elle devient une réelle menace, plus grande que la disparition de la banquise de l’Arctique. Le Time souligne d’ailleurs qu’une étude datant de 2017 rapporte que, si les émissions de gaz à effet de serre continuent à leur rythme actuel, les zones de basse altitude du monde entier pourraient être submergées par une augmentation du niveau de la mer atteignant jusqu’à plus d’un mètre avant la fin du siècle.

Lire aussi > Antarctique : Quand la mer glacée prend des airs de « peau de dragon »

Habitué à couvrir l’agitation du monde arabe, Paolo Pellegrin a photographié cette fois-ci pour le Time un autre type de conflit, plus lent, moins mortel en apparence mais d’une violence mondiale.

A crevasse measuring a few thousand feet, seen during a November research flight with @nasa scientists studying the toll of #climatechange on the west Antarctic peninsula. NASA has long employed satellites to monitor weather and climate from space, but the most detailed work requires getting a lot closer. The agency’s IceBridge mission fills that gap. Established in 2009, it’s an annual series of flights over both polar regions, surveying the state of the ice. Over the course of eight- to 12-hour expeditions covering up to 2,500 air miles out and back, the flights maintain an average cruising altitude of just 1,500 ft.—and sometimes much lower. « Over some mountain ranges we get pretty low, maybe 100 ft. or less, » says Nathan Kurtz, the project scientist—NASA-speak for boss. « We leave those decisions to the pilots. » Read the full TIME International cover story, and see the full photo essay, on TIME.com. Photograph by @pellegrinpaolo—@magnumphotos for TIME

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Climate change has become our species’ great destructive equalizer, leaving no part of the planet safe from the harm we do. In March 2017, the sea ice around both poles reached a record low for that time of year. In July, a 1 trillion–ton iceberg, roughly the size of Delaware, calved off of the Larsen C ice shelf in western Antarctica. The damage to the ice is being done not just from above, as the planet’s air warms, but from below, as its oceans do too. In November, @pellegrinpaolo joined @nasa’s IceBridge mission for a series of research flights over the west Antarctic peninsula. Scientists onboard surveyed the state of the ice with a suite of instruments including laser altimeters, radars, magneto­meters and gravimeters. No single mission is likely to produce breakthrough results. Rather, IceBridge flights yield cumulative data—sometimes granular­ ­findings that can add to the overall picture of polar melt. Read the full TIME International cover story, and see the full photo essay, on TIME.com. Video by @pellegrinpaolo—@magnumphotos for TIME #Antarctica #climatechange

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It is perhaps apt that @nasa is studying #Antarctica the same way it often studies distant worlds—from above, with a flying collection of multisensory instruments. And it is perhaps apt too that so many of the pictures could pass for ones of the barren moon; of broken Mars; of the great, cracked ice-cover of Jupiter’s moon Europa. In November, @pellegrinpaolo joined NASA’s IceBridge mission for a series of research flights over the west Antarctic peninsula, chronicling the toll of #climatechange on polar ice. Over the course of eight- to 12-hour expeditions covering up to 2,500 air miles out and back, the flights maintained an average cruising altitude of just 1,500 ft.—and sometimes much lower. Read the TIME International cover story, and see the full photo essay, on TIME.com. Photograph by @pellegrinpaolo—@magnumphotos for TIME

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