Posted in Behind the News

A bird’s eye view of Greenland’s melting glaciers

, by Lauren Easton

An all-formats team of AP journalists spent three days traveling across Greenland to document the impact of its shrinking glaciers in photos, text and video

Alongside Science Writer Seth Borenstein and video journalist Mstyslav Chernov, photographer Felipe Dana set out to tell the story in pictures.

He described the challenges of photographing the Greenland landscape.

Large icebergs float away as the sun rises near Kulusuk, Greenland, Aug. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

The images are spectacular. How did you set out to capture the topography and scale?

The Greenland landscape is spectacular and taking beautiful photos of it is not really a challenge. What’s difficult is to really show the dimensions, the magnitude of it. In person, you can’t see the end of some of the glaciers and you look up to some of the icebergs as if you are in front of a big mountain, but since there is not a lot of reference, it’s hard to show that scale in the photos. I often tried to include an element that will give that sense of scale to whoever is seeing the photo, whether it’s a person, a boat, or a nearby mountain.

What equipment did you use to make these photos?

I used two Sony A9 mirrorless cameras with a few lenses ranging from 24 to 400mm and a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone, plus cold weather batteries.

NYU field safety officer Brian Rougeux walks after installing a flag to help identify a GPS position at the Helheim glacier in Greenland, Aug. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

How difficult was it to get to and around Greenland?

Getting to Greenland can be a challenge depending on where you go. We flew from the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, to Kulusuk, a small airport in eastern Greenland.

Seth and Mstyslav followed scientists in a NASA flight as I recorded them from the ground. We went on a boat with locals hunting for whales (they didn’t catch any that day) and flew in a helicopter to the Helheim glacier, where we met New York University scientists and followed them on several flights as they installed radar and GPS to track the ice movement.

In total we stayed in Greenland three days and did two long boat rides, seven helicopter flights and dozens of drone flights.

Did anything about the landscape surprise you?

The immense size of the glaciers and icebergs is really something that, even if you are prepared, will surprise you when you see them in person. I was also expecting it to be a lot colder, but as you read in our story, summer this year is hitting Greenland hard with record-shattering heat and extreme melt.

Read the AP news story.

See the AP journalists at work in the slideshow below: