The More Things Change

By Franklin, Stuart | Geographical, October 2008 | Go to article overview

The More Things Change


Franklin, Stuart, Geographical


As the last ice age gave way to a warmer period, Europe's landscapes were transformed: ice retreated into the mountains and seas flooded across previously dry land. Now, as these photographs from Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux, the new book by award-winning Magnum photographer Stuart Franklin, show, climate change and a shifting human population are continuing to alter the region

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Water, water, everywhere

Flooding in Hitzacker on the Elbe River, Germany, 2006. The 2006 floods were the highest since records began 150 years ago and followed similarly extreme floods in 2002 that caused billions of euros of damage. The low-lying Elbe basin is frequently subject to flooding from the Elbe River, which runs from the Czech Republic, through Germany and into the North Sea. Water levels were particularly high in 2006 because heavy rainfall coincided with melting mountain snow. Scientists also believe that hedge removal on farms since the 1950s has resulted in less rainwater being absorbed by the land

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Trunk call

Above: Lusen, Germany, 2007. Throughout Europe, Norway spruce is being overtaken by other hardwoods. Around six to seven million hectares of Norway spruce in Europe is thought to be located outside the species' natural range. Initially moving into areas naturally dominated by overexploited broad-leaved species, and planted by industrialising countries hungry for fast-growing timber, the trees are now proving vulnerable to disease and climate change; Left: bark beetle has been a factor in much of the die-off. Shorter winter seasons have given the beetle an earlier start to its activity each year

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Hot stuff

Above: Madrid, Spain, 2006. Few people venture out into Madrid's AZCA business district at midday during the summer as temperatures now consistently exceed 40[degrees]C. Worldwide, temperatures have risen by an average of 0.8[degrees]C since 1880, according to NASA; Left: Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland, 2006. The largest glacier in the Alps, the Aletsch Glacier is receding at a rate of more than 50 metres per year. Between 18S0 and 200S, the total glacier surface area shrank by 40 per cent and the volume was reduced by 60 per cent, according to Swiss scientists. Elsewhere in Switzerland, plastic sheeting is being used to keep glaciers cool

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In the hothouse

Above: Berlin, Germany, 2006. On the banks of the River Spree, Berliners find some relief from the oppressive heat during the hot summer of 2006. The Badeschiff ('bathing ship', visible in the upper left of the photograph) is a swimming pool converted from the hull of a cargo vessel; Left: Aalsmeer, Westland, the Netherlands, 2006. …

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