Giant Red Polar Bear Painted on Iceland Glacier Skip to content

Giant Red Polar Bear Painted on Iceland Glacier

The outline of a huge polar bear was painted on the surface of Langjökull glacier in west Iceland on Friday with an organic red color to raise awareness of global warming.

The artwork is part of the 350 EARTH project with artists around the world demonstrating public support for bold climate action and the role art can play in inspiring humanity to take on the challenge of protecting the planet, a press release states.

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The 350 EARTH project is the world’s first global art project, taking place in 18 locations on the frontlines of climate change, from glaciers to drying river deltas to endangered forests, to coincide with the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

Contributors include Thom Yorke of Radiohead in the UK. Iceland was represented by visual artist Bjargey Ólafsdóttir and her team through the Langjökull artwork.

Although polar bears are not native to Iceland, polar bears and glaciers are synonymous with climate change in the Arctic regions and Ólafsdóttir and her team wanted to draw attention to the plight they face due to climate change.

“By the time the team was leaving, the wind was blowing fresh snow over the bear, and after the weekend it will have totally disappeared—but hopefully polar bears and glaciers will still be around for generations,” commented Charlotte Ólöf Jónsdóttir Biering, a member of Ólafsdóttir’s team.

Glaciers in Iceland are losing mass each year, and if the temperature rises as it is predicted to, Langjökull will melt to 15 percent of its current size by the end of the century, she said.

This will have significant impacts on Iceland’s hydrological system and melting glaciers worldwide will contribute to rising sea levels, putting people in coastal areas and on small islands at risk, Jónsdóttir Biering added.

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Photos by Christopher Lund.

The polar bear, 80×50 meters in size, was made with ten liters of organic color mixed with 900 liters of water. Thirteen volunteers helped spread the color mixture with watering cans, as described in Fréttabladid.

It was a collaborative effort of the artistic team, the Mountaineers of Iceland, Icelandair Scandinavia, Saga Film, N66, Nordurflug, Málning, Kjarnavörur-Innbak and Gardheimar.

350ppm is what scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 350.org is an international campaign that’s building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis.

Click here for further information and pictures about other artwork in the series.

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