Alpine Glaciers as architectures of Climate Change
:: Intro ::
The Alps as a topographic region recalls idyllic portraits of unspoiled nature, featuring peaks, glaciers, lakes and pastures. Yet, perhaps paradoxically, the Alps are also a surprisingly poignant reflection of the effects of climate change and the current conceptual, political and practical inability of our society to deal with them.
Retreating glaciers are perhaps the most striking phenomenon of all; they are formations of geological time that are melting in front of our eyes in a matter of a few years. One of the responses has been to cover them with white blankets, the dying body of the glacier concealed perhaps to relief the pain for its loss.
Beyond melancholy we can find refuge in the cold belly of pure science, systematically drilling cores in the deep ice before its gone. In the strata, literally frozen in time, is a repository of the alpine microclimate, including human habitation's effects on it. An enormous amount of data stored in particles and molecules of air trapped in the layers of ice, every layer a year of history, a cycle of life.
:: Aim :: This seminar at University of Innsbruck explored the notions of Synthetic Landscape to encompass all of the processes and systems that contribute to the current dramatically accelerated transformation of Alpine Glacier. Evaluating the extent of human agency towards them. The students employed algorithmic drawing techniques to decode the frozen data-scapes to unfold their anthropogenic dimension. As a result a new computational alpine panorama became evident, a mathematical landscape where the true Nature of Glaciers was questioned.
Can the melting of glaciers be reversed? What would that imply? Is there another position beyond melancholy and pure rationality that gives operational agency towards this process?
:: Method ::
Each student was asked to choose a specific glacier from a list of the 30 most significant ones. As a group we aimed to cover the entire alpine region. At the seminar we developed a first good mesh model of the glacier topography as well as a hi-res satellite image of its current state. These provided the data for our algorithmic simulations.
The main focus was on the following resolutions:
-the marcoscale (Alps).
-the microscale (Ice formations).
we then re-described the project's site with diagrammatic gradient fields, intensive depictions of their morphology, colour and compositions; extensive grids and point sets were deployed to probe them.
:: Credits ::
University of Innsbruck
Synthetic Landscape Lab - Synthetic Crystallization Seminar:
Prof. Claudia Pasquero (Tutor)
Marco Poletto (Lecturer)
Maria Kuptsova (Researcher/Teaching Assistant)
Simon Posch (Student Assistant)
Bachelors Studio Students:
Stephanie Mendanha Da Rocha