Bulletin News

Globe-traveling photographer documents melting ice caps


Photographer David Thoreson has sailed over the Arctic Circle six times and traveled over the Antarctic Circle twice. He was the first American to sail the length of the frigid Northwest passage in both directions. Needless to say, this camera-toting sailor from Iowa has photographed a lot of ice.

And, over the course of recent years, he has watched a lot of it melt.

The powerful images captured by Thoreson during his polar adventures tell the story of a warming climate and changing landscape that he will share with the SUNY Cortland campus community in a virtual presentation on Thursday, April 22, during Earth Week.

“Eyewitness to Climate Change: Melting Ice and Rising Seas,” will begin at 7 p.m. via a Zoom link. Use meeting ID No. 893 0533 5466 and passcode No. 470362 to enter the meeting. Presented by the Campus Artist and Lecture Series (CALS) and the SUNY Cortland Sustainability Committee, Thoreson’s discussion is free and open to the public.

During his talk, Thoreson will provide an eyewitness account of how climate change impacts our sensitive polar and ocean systems and affects our environment worldwide.

“I hope to raise the level of curiosity and awareness about the climate crisis we are facing now and in the future,” Thoreson said. “I also want to address how, as students, your careers can be focused on the new clean economy where there will be tremendous job opportunities in providing solutions.”

Thoreson has been on extreme adventures much of his life, photographing, documenting and studying the oceans and polar regions of the world. He is a member of both the Cruising Club of America and the Explorers Club.

Thoreson has sailed below the Antarctic Circle, across the Atlantic three times, and has made a 28,000-mile circumnavigation of the North and South American Continents. Ultimately, the professional photographer and sailor has traveled more than 65,000 nautical miles across the globe, taking award-winning photos that make the urgent case for people to undertake the task of environmental conservation.

Although he remains based in his land-locked home state of Iowa, he is a global advocate for ocean and wilderness protection and creating a more sustainable future for generations of explorers yet to come.

His striking photography has appeared in media produced by the National Park Service, PBS, the Smithsonian, the World Science Festival and TED Talks. Thoreson transformed his very personal account of his adventures into a book illustrated with his stunning photography, Over the Horizon.

In 2009-10, Thoreson released a documentary of his 28,000-mile travel of the North and South American continents. His film was nominated for an Emmy Award.

When home in Northwest Iowa, Thoreson operates a fine-art gallery featuring his photography and still loves to race dinghies across the blue waters of Okoboji Lake, where he learned to sail as a boy.

David Thoreson's presentation will introduce the Cortland community to adventure, natural beauty and a realization about the limits of nature pitted against man's encroachments.

“I love live audiences and bringing my stories of life on the ‘big screen’ as a professional photographer so I will do my best to share great visuals on your screens that can transport you to some of the most remote and beautiful places on the planet,” Thoreson said recently.

“Although it is a Zoom presentation, I always look forward to as much interaction with students as possible, especially answering questions,” Thoreson said.

April is Earth Month and SUNY Cortland will celebrate with additional events that will be publicized soon. The events are free, open to the public and virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about any CALS virtual events, visit the CALS website or contact the Campus Activities and Corey Union Office at 607-753-5574.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Jenna Donofrio