Cold hard facts: Award-winning film highlights plight of world’s glaciers

Highlighting the diminishing state of the world’s glaciers to younger generations is critical in the fight against climate change, a University of Dundee expert has said.

Cold hard facts: Award-winning film highlights plight of world’s glaciers

Glaciologist Dr Simon Cook, from Dundee’s School of Social Sciences, said that this year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow provided an ideal platform to educate people about the climate emergency that the planet is facing.

He is part of the team behind a new education film, Glacier Mass Balance, that has earned a Silver Publishers Award from the Geographical Association for showcasing how global climate change is causing most glaciers around the world to shrink.

The film was developed by the University of Dundee and Royal Holloway, University of London to educate secondary school pupils about these natural phenomena and the peril they are facing.

Simon said, “Like a bank account, where money flows in and out, the same can be said for glaciers, with snow adding mass to the glacier’s ‘budget’ and meltwater being subtracted from it. Sadly, the world’s glaciers are running a deficit which means they are receding, which has implications ranging from tourism to hydropower generation, as well as the reliability of water supply to almost two billion people globally.”

Simon co-wrote the script for Glacier Mass Balance with Dr Bethan Davies, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography at Royal Holloway, for the Time for Geography initiative, a series of open-access educational videos for school pupils.

The judges commended the film for managing to tackle complex concepts in an accessible and engaging way, for introducing and using technical language effectively, and commented on the innovative video style and footage.

The film also features footage captured by Dr Kieran Baxter, a lecturer in Communication Design at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, whose work in studying the retreat of glaciers across Europe has seen him featured across UK and international media.

Simon said that highlighting the plight of these amazing environments was particularly important as Scotland prepares to welcome representatives of the world’s leading powers for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference – known as COP26.

“This is the first time that the UK has hosted this hugely important summit and it is an opportunity to put the climate crisis at the heart of the news agenda,” Simon continued.

“Climate change is happening, and I hope that our film can help to highlight to younger generations that our actions are having a lasting and irreversible impact on our planet.”

Dr Davies added, “Globally, melt from glaciers contributes to 21% of sea level rise, which is more than melt from Greenland and Antarctica.

“The coherent recession of glaciers is one of the most visible and clear signals of global climate change, and the loss of these ice masses could affect water supplies, increase hazards from ice avalanches or glacier lake outburst floods, and contribute to coastal flooding.

“We are delighted to highlight this important topic just in time for COP26”.

Glacier Mass Balance is available to view online.