The project ‘Melting Away’ is about the changing lives of the Inuits who live in Greenland, the world’s largest island that is covered by the world’s biggest and fastest melting ice sheet. It is a story about the people who possess thousands years old knowing of hunting and now are looking for ways to survive in the ecosystem that is in a collapse. The project will result in a photographic series with the story angle that is centered on the element of ice and perspective of the Inuits with a sharp message about the urgency of the issue for humanity.
Greenland, the planet’s biggest island is melting for the first time on its entire surface. Large lakes form, creating a web of thousands of rivers that are slowly filling up the ocean. Just as worrisome as the increasing sea levels, is the darkening of the surface, which will gradually turn Greenland from a cooler to a self-heater, which could together with the melting of permafrost set a fatal rate to the speed of global warming. With this project, I focus on Greenland, which I believe shines a light on the story that is most urgent in the context of the Arctic polar circle and global warming.
In the north, the climate change is hastening the decline of the age-old hunting. The Inuit hunters give up their dog teams because there is in average three months less hunting on sea ice. Whereas they used to go hunting for weeks on the sea ice, they can now only travel for a day. Having such poor hunting possibilities, the majority of young people leave smaller settlements like the far north Qaanaaq for the growing capital Nuuk that is planned to be joined by a construction of Nuuk II.
The traditional way of life is further challenged by marine life pollution that affects Inuits’ diet. In Qaanaaq region, scientists found the highest mercury loads in the entire Arctic. Mercury was found in polar bears, ringed seals and by far higher than any other Inuit or the Indian tribes, or other indigenous or nonindigenous populations.
Last year, a small town Nûgâtsiaq in the northwest of Greenland was hit by a tsunami that left four people presumed dead, dozens injured, and 11 homes washed away. It was probably caused by the massive landslide that had been caused by ice sheet melt.
As a documentary photographer, I have been deeply committed to addressing climate change with the focus on the effects it has on the most vulnerable human societies (Kiribati, Alaska, Greenland, Bhutan...). For the past four years, I have been documenting the changing lives of the Inuits in the northwest Greenland as a part of a long-term project.