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Olafur Eliasson Ice Watch
Loading the ice at Nuuk Port and Harbour, GreenlandGroup Greenland

Olafur Eliasson is melting 100 tonnes of ice in Copenhagen

The Danish-Icelandic artist wants to drive home his message on climate change

However much people may try to deny climate change, it's pretty undeniable that Arctic ice is melting, sea levels are rising and growing gills isn't an option. Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosling are using their public art piece "Ice Watch" to send a very public message to the world this Sunday by transporting twelve blocks of inland ice weighing a total of 100 tonnes to Copenhagen’s City Hall Square. 

The ice will be displayed in clock formation. The reason for the number? 100 tonnes of inland ice melt every hundredth of a second. So basically, time is ticking. 

The blocks, taken from a fjord just outside Greenland, will be left to melt in the square to serve as a reminder that urgent action must be taken to preserve the planet for future generations. Olafur Eliasson hopes that a physical connection with the ice will strengthen relationships with the issue.

"'Ice Watch' makes the climate challenges we are facing tangible," he says. "I hope that people will touch the inland ice on City Hall Square and be touched by it. Perception and physical experience are cornerstones in art, and they may also function as tools for creating social change. We are all part of the ‘global we’; we must all work together to ensure a stable climate for future generations."

The project marks the publication of the Fifth Assessment Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Events are being organised across Copenhagen in a bid to widen understanding about the dangers of climate change and the implications for the planet's future.

Eliasson's collaborator Rosing says: "Ice is a wonderful, peculiar substance. Just as the progress of our civilisations has been tied to the coming and going of the ice ages, so, too, is our future destiny and the destiny of ice tied together. Through our actions we are now close to terminating the period of stable climate that served as the condition for civilisations to arise and flourish. Science and technology have made it possible for us to destabilise Earth’s climate, but now that we understand the mechanisms behind these changes, we have the power to prevent them from growing."

The events in Copenhagen run from 26 to 31 October.