VANISHING ALPINE GLACIERS- OUR LOST HERITAGE
“Glaciers, back in their cold solitudes, work apart from humanity, exerting their tremendous energies in silence and darkness…then they shrink and vanish like summer clouds.” John Muir Why are glaciers melting today? How do the land, the animals, the plants, and the waterways respond? What do local mountain people and the international mountaineering communities say?
3 X 47min miniseries, 1 X 53 min, 100 min Theatrical, 16mm, Digital Beta
Many of the world’s alpine glaciers that have existed since the Pleistocene Ice Age are vanishing in the blink of a geologic eye due to global warming. Glaciated areas in the European Alps have been reduced by 40% since 1850 with a projected 50% volume loss in the near future (Marshall 2003). Alpine glaciers monitored in Canada are melting at annual rates of 1.8m/year. Ice-covered areas in Montana’s Glacier National Park have decreased by 73% (99km2-27km2) from 1850-1993. Mt. Kilimanjaro’s ice field has retreated 82% since 1912. The Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand retreated rapidly over a 15 year period during the 1950’s and 1960’s. In Venezuela two out of six glaciers have totally vanished since 1972. From Argentina’s Perito Merano
Glacier to Iceland’s Vatatnajokull ice cap, the health of glaciers and continental ice sheets has been compromised in this century by extensive and excessive ablation.
Glaciers are important to sustaining life on earth in that their movements carve out landscapes and deposit sediments supporting plant life, while annual melt waters feed perennial rivers sustaining riparian animals and mountain folk living downstream. Glaciers and Continental Ice Sheets are not only aesthetically-stunning frozen monuments, but are towers of life which store about 75% of the world’s freshwater. Melting of alpine and sub-polar glaciers has been equivalent to a 0.25 mm/year sea-level rise in the past 100 years(Dyurgerov 1997). Now, if this trend continues and all land ice melted, sea level would raise approximately 70m worldwide, shoreline communities around the globe would be displaced, and ocean water thermal- haline circulation patterns would be drastically altered.
While glaciers disappear and temperatures warm, the alpine plant and animal community also begins to shift due to global climate change. Alpine plants that thrive under living conditions defined by short growing seasons, cold temperatures, and potential frost already begin to be displaced by lowland species. The permafrost line that defines the ecological boundary between the alpine and the nivial environment continues to march up the mountain such that endemic plants restricted to the high alpine will disappear, threatening the extinction of an entire ecosystem. Animals will likely respond by changing their winter hibernation behavior and/or spring feeding habits depending on the timing of glacier or snowfield melt and plant flowering. In turn, mountain pastoralists will be forced to adapt their lifestyles to the changing needs of their animals in order to survive. Further, warming will likely impose other threats on mountain communities such as, increased rock fall, early spring floods, and late summer water shortages. Mountain people living in the Marung village near the Gangapurna glacier (Himalyas) depend on later summer glacier melt water for primary production. In Colombia and other South American countries water shortages are already attributed to glacier retreat. Finally, the Chamonix mountain community is concerned that glacial melt may cause massive rock fall in their narrow valley.
Clearly, glacier retreat and alpine advance are of global concern. Therefore, an international team of film producers and scientists has responded to the clarion call of Muir’s silent glaciers in retreat. Their mission is to document the response of the natural world and of mountain people to the threat of glacier retreat on the planet. Their objective is to learn about the causes of current changes in the alpine through the eyes and experiences of world mountaineers and local mountain inhabitants, who bear witness to the local climate and local hydrology throughout generations. They are also interested in recording the people’s perception of native plant and animal responses to these changes, and finally the impact of these biotic shifts on mountain culture. They propose to create a feature length educational documentary film and Television mini series targeted for family audiences that not only depicts current glacier retreat in global mountain ranges, but presents the potential future challenges that the natural environment, the local mountain community, and the international mountaineering community face in dealing with the threat of vanishing glaciers.
PROJECTED TOTAL FOR FEATURE DOC,ALL VERSIONS & MINISERIES APPROX BUDGET $1,500,000
THE INTERNATIONAL FILM AND RESEARCH CREW
Michael Brown is a filmmaker and adventurer who reached the summit of Mount Everest 3 times, received 3 National Emmy Awards for Cinematography, and is currently nominated for two more Emmy awards (one as a Director and the other as a Cinematographer). His films received top prizes at Taos Mountain Film Festival, the Montreal International Adventure, Mountain Film Festival, and Banff Mountain Film Festival. Part of a family of renowned adventure filmmakers (father Roger Brown and brothers Gordon Brown and Nick Brown), Michael has participated in 28 expeditions on all seven continents. www.seracfilms.com
Stipe Bozic is one of world's most successful Himalayan climbers. He has made a full photographic record of his eleven Himalayan expeditions, including Everest (two ascents), K2, Kanchenjunga and Manaslu. Bozic is the only man to have filmed 4 times on each of the 3 highest peaks in the world. He has worked for several TV companies and is now an editor with Croatian TV. http://www.hrt.hr/htv/emisije/7summits/
Peter Chrzanowski specializes in high adrenaline action/adventure documentary films, mountain community ethnographies, dramas, and photo-journalism. He has 25 years of international experience on a variety of productions and expeditions. His first film, Ski Peru, documents an attempt to climb and ski Peru's highest mountain, Huascaran. The expedition joined forces with famed French ski alpinists Patrick Vallencant and Jean Marc Boivin and won the Golden Sheaf award at Yorkton International Film Festival. By 1983 while attending Simon Fraser University for Film and Communications, Peter founded Extreme Explorations. www.explorex.net and www.itv.net/extreme
Catherine Cunningham is presently finishing her PHD research in Mountain Forest Ecology at ETHZ in Zurich, Switzerland, on plant response to changing winter climate in high mountains. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology and International Peace Studies from the U. of Notre Dame, USA and a MS from Utah State U. in Ecology. Able to weave adventure travel into her profession, she has journeyed from India (where she studied the Tamil Indian culture for a year), to Patagonia, to Southeast Asia, to Peru, and to many countries in Europe. She is a dedicated ecologist, ski mountaineer, and freelance nature photographer. In 2005 Catherine plans to travel to remote mountain regions around the globe to document (through photographs) the current ecological state of the nivial-alpine environment and to report (through recorded interviews) the perspectives of local mountain people on how these changes impact them. www.naturesreflection.org
Nigel Protter (MBA) www.nigelprotter.com Is an entrepreneur, environmental consultant in New Technologies, and financial marketing mentor for the project. Nigel graduated from Simon Fraser U. with a BA in Computer Science and Communication in 1987. As a man of many trades, he then worked in graphic design, media system backup, various hardware / software solutions. After setting up and managing a myriad of businesses, (see resume online) he went on to obtain an MBA in 2002 at Simon Fraser U. in Management Technology.
Nigel is an avid outdoorsman, adventurer, paraglider, certified pilot, first aid technician, level 1 avalanche technician, BC white water raft guide, ski mountaineer, and climber. Nigel was one of the founding members of Extreme Explorations in 1982. www.nigelprotter.com
Scott Fullmer: has 25 years of experience in film-making and skiing. Former World Cup Freestyle ski competitor and Ski Stunt man, Scott was born in Calgary Alberta and has spent 6 years in Australia skiing competitively. Aside from award winning Broadcast work, feature films, and commercials, Scott had also operated a Heli-skiing video business. Past clients include: Warren Miller, Reel Action Pictures (RAP), Ride Guide, Extreme Explorations, Adventure Scope, Teton Gravity Research, Mountain Sports International, MSP, Ocean Watch, Double Black Diamond, Resort Sports Network (RSN), Outdoor Life Network, Memo Vision , CNN, ESPN, FOX, Sunshine Village PPI Peterson Productions. www.snowmotion.com
Barbara Ehringhaus is a glaciologist living in Geneva. She acts as the main representative of proMONT-BLANC- an umbrella organization of 20 Alpine Clubs, environmental organizations, and local associations from Italy, France, and Switzerland. She works tirelessly for the protection of the Mont Blanc mountain range by making the region a World Heritage site within the Alps. The receding Glaciers problem is one of special concern to Barbara and her Mont Blanc Mission. www.pro-mont-blanc.org
Peter Latzko is the conference speaker in France and Switzerland for Alpa Films, as well as the distributor and translator of short films for Werner Herzog Film Production. He is also the distributor and co-founder of The Motor Sports Night and marketing chair for Answer SPA Torino (North Europe) for Lavazza. He is the distributor, producer, and director of The Mont Blanc story. www.montblanc-pictures.com
Tomo Kriznar Born in 1954 in Slovenia, Tomo has a university degree in economics and mechanical engineering. He is a traveler, journalist, writer, documentary filmmaker and social worker. In 1985 he saddled his bicycle literally toured the world. In 1995 he read about genocide in the Nuba Mountains in the book Facing Genocide: The Nuba of Sudan. Since 1998 Tomo has been working in Nuba. In 1999 he published a book Nuba – Pure People and in 2000 -2001 created the documentary films, Nuba, Pure People, and Nuba, Voices from the Other Side. Literature Cited:
Dyurgerov, M. B. a. M. F. M. (1997). "Year-to-year fluctuation of global mass balance of small glaciers and their contributions to sea level changes." Arctic and Alpine Research 29: 392-402.
Marshall, S. (2003). "Glacier Retreat in Alpine Areas." Mountain Science Highlights 1(2): 1-2.