The Earth’s polar regions are some of the planet’s most fragile places.
The Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth, and snow and ice cover are declining significantly. Part of Antarctica has warmed faster than anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere and wildlife has already been affected. As Antarctic sea ice has expanded in some areas, Arctic ice has seen a greater and record-breaking decline.
Amid these changes, photographer Camille Seaman traveled yearly to the Arctic and Antarctic for a decade, capturing the ice and stunning landscapes that define the regions. Her new book, Melting Away: A Ten-Year Journey through Our Endangered Polar Regions, is available now.
The Huffington Post spoke with Seaman about her work and journeys to the Arctic and Antarctic.
What sort of changes have you witnessed firsthand in your visits?
Everywhere I went and had the opportunity to return to has experienced change. Change is the nature of time on any place. The accelerated pace of change is what is making things very challenging in almost all polar regions. The melt comes sooner, lasts longer and has reciprocal effects on every aspect of all life in polar regions.
Maybe you have experienced some event in your own life, some flood or catastrophe that shook you to your core. Left you feeling loss, perhaps of someone you love, your home or livelihood? It’s the same for our planet, it is losing left and right, watching things melt away, die and disappear. Going at such a rate as to not have time to make adaptations or adjustments. Just gone.
I would recommend to anyone reading this to sit in silence for as long as possible and think about all that is being lost, all that is altered or gone. Grieve that your children may not see tigers or rhinos or polar bears in the wild. Think about the aspens and pines burning in the fires, the islands flooded with salt and weep for the new silence. We always have a choice, and even when you think you are not making one, you are. So choose the future you want and go work towards building that!
How did you first become interested in photographing the planet’s polar regions?
When I was 29, I gave up my seat on an over-sold flight in exchange for a free round-trip ticket anywhere the airline flew. That was 1999. It was Alaska Airlines. I must tell you that I had no ambition, desire or interest in ever going to the Arctic. In fact I moved from New York to California partly to escape the extreme weather of [New York’s] icy winters and sweltering summers. As a child I had no curiosity about the North Pole or polar bears. Yet here was a door opening, an invitation.
I decided I would do a sort of reverse commute. And so I went to the local North Face outlet and bought some warm clothes and, without doing much research, decided that I would go in the last week of March. I knew it would be cold but the sun returned by then. I checked my bag and boarded the plane wearing only a…