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01 Jun-02 Jun 2023

Adrift (∆Asea-ice)

  • 13 And Over
  • Climate Change
  • Polar
  • Research

The calculus of one’s own contribution to a warming climate.

Borrowing a groundbreaking scientific formula* the filmmaker-artist saws off the exact amount of Arctic sea-ice (15.69m²) destroyed by his carbon emissions flying economy return, Sydney to Greenland, to film it (5.23 tonnes of CO₂e).

Adrift (∆Asea-ice) visualises and mythologises the consequences of a Western way of life. It touches upon disconnects — of cause from effect; of emissions here and now from melting there and then — that underly our psychological responses to global warming. Disconnects that have perhaps kept the problem comfortably abstract for us — until now.

Notz and Stroeve’s equation — ΔAseaice = dFnonSW,in / dECO₂ x ΔECO₂ — states that the total area of sea-ice lost equals a constant — derived from research into energy flux at the ice edge — of 3.0 ± 0.3 square metres per metric tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, multiplied by the sum of emissions. Inserting the artist’s own 5.23 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent into the equation, this works out at 15.69 ± 1.57 m² of sea-ice that will not regenerate naturally in northwest Greenland come winter. With less sea-ice to reflect sunlight back into space the ocean absorbs more heat, hastening Arctic melt further.

A video vignette from an Arctic tipping point exploring the nascent science of climate event attribution. The soundtrack comprises æolian sounds from an empty water tank in northwest Greenland that ‘sang’ when it was windy.

You can watch the short film and our discussion with artist-filmmaker Adam Sébire and sea-ice physicist Dirk Notz above.

*Notz, D., & Stroeve, J. (2016): Observed Arctic sea-ice loss directly follows anthropogenic CO₂ emission. Science, 354, 747–750.

Film by Adam Sébire. See the full triple-screen exhibition version and more of Adam’s climate change video art series “anthropoScenes” here.