Polar Ice in Retreat

Photographs by Mario Tama

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The creeping pace of climate change can make it hard to visualize. To help make it more accessible to the public, Mario Tama has made dramatic photos of Arctic and Antarctic glaciers on flights with NASA’s Operation IceBridge, whose mission is to gather visual evidence of the impact of warming temperatures. A recent study drawing on IceBridge data found that warming water is melting the undersides of the icesheets.  This year's maximum sea ice coverage, reached in March, was a half-million square miles lower than the average in recent decades. The vastness of this ice is captured in Mario’s photos. Mario’s aim is to ”document this slice of the planet that is alien to most of us." He adds, “At times it really felt like a lunar mission, or a mission to Venus. The scenes, shapes, and sizes of the features in Antarctica were often otherworldly ... and just insanely, unimaginably beautiful.”

See more images from this story on the Getty Images website.