Google Maps won’t help you much if you’re trekking across Greenland’s icy terrain. But for the curious and desk-bound, Google’s Street View now offers compelling, panoramic vistas of the region’s imperiled ice.
To capture the scenery, which went online Tuesday, Google teamed up with Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, aka the one-handed Jaime Lannister.
The Danish actor hauled the 360-degree Trekker camera across southern Greenland and into the village of Igaliku, where he lives part of the year with his Greenlandic wife, Nukaaka, and their two daughters.
Coster-Waldau, a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador since September, said the Street View project could help show the rest of the world how human-driven climate change is affecting Greenland.
“One of the best places in the world to see what [climate change] means is in Greenland, because the glaciers are melting at an alarming rate,” the actor said in a video from the Street View expedition.
Greenland, which is home to about 56,500 people, is a semi-autonomous territory within Denmark.
About 80 percent of the territory’s surface is covered by the Greenland Ice Sheet, which is rapidly melting as global temperatures rise.
A Google Timelapse video, shown below, illustrates the shrinking of part of Greenland’s ice from 1984 to 2016 by combining U.S. and European satellite imagery from this period.
Across the Arctic region, 2016 was the warmest year since at least 1900, due to a combination of climate change and natural weather variability that brought even more heat into the region.
What happens to Greenland’s ice is of global importance. If all of Greenland’s ice melts an unlikely scenario in the near future scientists estimate that global sea levels would rise by about 23 feet. That’s enough to flood densely populated coastal areas around the world.
By the end of the century, the melting ice may unearth the toxic waste that’s buried in decommissioned U.S. military bases in Greenland.
With the Street View images, scientists and armchair travelers alike will be able to document the long-term changes to the ice, Coster-Waldau said.
“We’ll do the treks here now, and then hopefully we’ll come back here in five years,” he said during his expedition. “Then people will actually be able to see what climate change means in real life, in real time.”
Video credits: Google Street View.
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