Baffin Bay sea ice artwork
Baffin Bay Sea Ice I” artwork by Justin Brice Guariglia.

An artist may not be the first person you’d expect to work with NASA. But for the last year and a half, Justin Brice Guariglia has been flying over Greenland with scientists who study the region’s rapidly melting ice sheets.

Guariglia: “The immensity and the scale of the ice sheets … it’s unlike anything that I’ve ever experienced.”

Justin Brice Guariglia
Justin Brice Guariglia

Guariglia collects photos, videos, and sound recordings. He works with the scientists to understand what they’re learning. And then he takes everything back to his Brooklyn studio, where he uses it as artistic inspiration.

In his work, Guariglia invites viewers to consider time and scale. For example, he has taken aerial photos of Greenland’s huge, rapidly-melting glaciers. Then in the studio, he’s printed them on massive, hard-to-destroy surfaces.

Guariglia: “My role is to figure out new ways to digest the data and regurgitate it in a way that makes people think and hopefully makes it accessible.”

Most recently, Guariglia became the first artist to be officially embedded inside a NASA mission. For five years, he’ll be part of the Oceans Melting Greenland Initiative. His job will be to take what the scientists learn about sea-level rise and present it in ways that make the rest of us think more deeply about global warming.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

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Sara Peach

Sara Peach is the editor-in-chief of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist,...