Beneath the Cryosphere

Frozen water is found on the Earth’s surface primarily as snow cover, freshwater ice in lakes and rivers, sea ice, glaciers, ice sheets, and frozen ground and permafrost. The residence time of water in each of these cryospheric sub-systems varies widely. Snow cover and freshwater ice are essentially seasonal, and most sea ice, except for ice in the central Arctic, lasts only a few years if it is not seasonal. A given water particle in glaciers, ice sheets, or ground ice, however, may remain frozen for 10-100,000 years or longer, and deep ice in parts of East Antarctica may have an age approaching 1 million years.

Most of the world’s ice volume is in Antarctica, principally in the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. In terms of areal extent, however, Northern Hemisphere winter snow and ice extent comprise the largest area, amounting to an average 23% of hemispheric surface area in January. The large areal extent and the important climatic roles of snow and ice, related to their unique physical properties, indicate that the ability to observe and model snow and ice-cover extent, thickness, and physical properties (radiative and thermal properties) is of particular significance for climate research.

This series continues the exploration of an earlier body of work, Piqaluyak (2019), which focuses on the reshaping of ice sheets and glacial absence. With the use of image-editing software, multiple layers of digitally generated impressions are superimposed onto an amalgamation of sampled images which are subsequently printed on aluminium, mirror Dibond or on canvas. The process is then completed by hand-drawn motifs in wax pastels and / or aquarelle to further illustrate an atmospheric realm. A surface layer of structured Plexiglas is positioned on top of a selection of works that creates a visual distortion, allowing the viewer to interpret the visualisations contained within the work whilst questioning concepts of dimensional potentiality and perception.


As a side note: The cryosphere (from the Greek κρύος kryos, "cold", "frost" or "ice" and σφαῖρα sphaira, "globe, ball") relates to the portions of Earth's surface where water is in solid form, including sea ice, lake ice, river ice, snow cover, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, and frozen ground (which includes permafrost). The cryosphere is an integral part of the global climate system with important linkages and feedbacks generated through its influence on surface energy and moisture fluxes, clouds, precipitation, hydrology, atmospheric and oceanic circulation. Through these feedback processes, the cryosphere plays a significant role in the global climate and in climate model response to global changes. The term deglaciation describes the retreat of cryospheric features.