'Otherworldly' Photo of Endangered Monkeys Wins Top Award
"The Golden Couple" shows a male and female snub-nosed monkey sitting on a stone in the temperate forest of China's Qinling Mountains. The endangered species, named in part for their golden-reddish fur and flattened noses, are endemic to the area.
The annual international wildlife photo competition is organized by the Natural History Museum in London and is now in its 54th year.
"In a world which is in thrall to special effects, this image celebrates the majestic and otherworldly presence of nature, and reminds us of our crucial role in protecting it," Natural History Museum Director Sir Michael Dixon said in a press release emailed to EcoWatch.
Snub-nosed monkeys live in groups and are constantly on the move, so it took the artist several days to understand the group's dynamics and to take the perfect shot. Oosten's image, taken during springtime, shows the two primates intently watching an altercation between the lead males of two other groups.
"This image is in one sense traditional—a portrait. But what a striking one, and what magical animals," chair of the judging panel, Roz Kidman Cox, added. "It is a symbolic reminder of the beauty of nature and how impoverished we are becoming as nature is diminished. It is an artwork worthy of hanging in any gallery in the world."
Oosten is an award-winning nature and wildlife photographer based in the Netherlands. His submission won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year grand title and the animal portraits category.
The award for Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018 went to 16-year-old South African wildlife photographer Skye Meaker for his serene image of a leopard waking from sleep at the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana.
"Lounging Leopard" by Skye Meaker, South AfricaNatural History Museum
"She would sleep for a couple of minutes. Then look around briefly. Then fall back to sleep," Meaker told the Natural History Museum about the photo.
The leopard is seen lying along a low branch of a nyala tree and was positioned just meters away from the young photographer when he snapped the picture.
"With precisely executed timing and composition, we get a coveted glimpse into the inner world of one of the most frequently photographed, yet rarely truly seen, animals," competition judge and previous competition winner Alexander Badyaev said in the press release.
This year's winners were chosen from more than 45,000 entries from professionals and amateurs across 95 countries. Oosten and Meaker's images were selected out of 19 category winners.
An exhibition of the photographs will open at the Natural History Museum on Oct. 19 before it tours across the UK and internationally to locations including Canada, Spain, the U.S., Australia and Germany.
New to this year's competition is the Lifetime Achievement Award. World renowned wildlife photographer Frans Lanting is being honored for his three decades of conservation work and his photographs will also be featured in the exhibition.
The 2019 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition opens for entries on Monday and ends Dec. 13. It is open to photographers of all ages and abilities.
Scroll through the slideshow below to check out more of the winning images!
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The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.
A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
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