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21 Photos From the Frontlines of Climate Change

A coalition of some of the world's top photographers launched a project this month to document how climate change is altering communities, wildlife and landscapes across the globe. Known as EveryDayClimateChange, the venture is housed on Instagram. It includes pictures taken by the photographers on five continents over the past several years as they've traveled the world on assignment. All captions by the photographers.

Juan Butron, who helps scientists study what remains of the Colorado River Delta's ecology, stands at the place where the river ends in the desert, miles away from its historic rendezvous with the Sea of Cortez.

Photo © John Trotter

Before the arrival of electricity, icemen extracted ice from glaciers and frozen lakes around the globe. In the region now known as Ecuador, ice harvesters were called "hieleros" ("icers" or icemen) and, for hundred of years, as many as 40 or 50 families were devoted to extracting the ice from Chimborazo, the volcano high in the Andes that reaches more than 20,000 feet high. Baltazar, who is seventy years old, is the last iceman in the world. Every year it is harder for him to find glaciers at low altitude. Glaciers are melting at a fast rate in Chimborazo.

Photo © Alex Reshuan

Ebei Edapal, Esekon Eipan, and Ebulon Louyongorot stand on the Todonyang plains near a watering hole in Kenya. The teenage boys started carrying guns as early as seven years old to protect their herd from the frequent attacks of the rival Daasanach tribe.

With the changing climate the Turkana herdsmen, who traditionally practice a nomadic pastoralist lifestyle in the arid northwestern tip of Kenya, struggle to cope with the harsh consequences of the prolonged drought.

Across the border in Ethiopia the Daasanach are pushing into Turkana territory as their government handed most of their traditional lands over to large-scale farming developers. Competing for the fishing grounds of Lake Turkana and the pastures around it, the rival communities are trapped in a vicious cycle of conflict as they struggle to survive.

Photo © Balazs Gardi/Azdarya

A dried up Lake Mead with relics of it's past -- a fish cleaning station no longer functioning, a pier to nowhere, and a sign station alerting visitors to safe swimming practices. Lake Mead, which straddles the border of Nevada and Arizona, has been rapidly shrinking as a result of climate change and overuse of the Colorado River. Some scientists hypothesize the lake could dry up by 2021.

Photo © Nina Berman/NOOR

A helicopter drops water on the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California in August 2013. It was the 4th largest wildfire in the state's history and eventually scorched over 400 sq. miles. Although the event cannot be directly attributed to climate change, many scientists who study the ecology and weather patterns in the region believe the intensity and severity of the blaze may have been exacerbated by the decades-long increase in temperatures and drought conditions that are consistent with symptoms of climate change.

Photo © David Butow

Families in San Jose, Philippines sought shelter in a community center before a storm surge brought by Typhoon Haiyan engulfed their homes in 2013. The typhoon displaced an estimated 4 million people and killed more than 7,000.

Intense storms like Haiyan in 2013 and Typhoon Hagupit in 2014 continue to affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of Filipinos. The Global Climate Risk Index of 2015 ranked the Philippines as the country most affected by weather-related disasters like storms, floods, and heatwaves followed by Cambodia and India.

Photo © Coleen Jose

Coal is the primary energy source fueling China's economic rise, but this seemingly endless stream of heavy dump trucks filled with coal on a Gobi Desert highway is far from the big urban electricity consumers on China's east coast. The country now consumes more coal than the rest of the planet combined. A new coal-fired power plant is opened every week. China now emits more carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, than any other country on the planet.

Photo © James Whitlow Delano/Luz (Italia)/Cosmos (France)/ Laif (Germany)/ Redux (USA archive)

Carlos Proffit outside of his home in Pajarito Mesa, New Mexico in February 2011. Proffit moved to the Mesa "to escape the rent cycle," and then built his own home. He slowly learned to install and in some cases build solar and wind solutions for his home over the course of many years. While residents of the Pajarito Mesa legally own their land, a bureaucratic oversight has prevented them from receiving paved roads, running water, and electricity. The lives of people on the Mesa reveal a glance into energy’s past and future: while some struggle for the fuel to run their generator for an hour or two each day, their neighbors have been able to afford solar panels, and live comfortably off the grid.

Photo © Peter DiCampo

In an Ogoniland village in the Niger Delta, an unattended oil wellhead that had been leaking for weeks has turned into a raging inferno. This environmental disaster effects the crops, water, and air for locals forcing farmers and fishermen out of work, amplifying tensions between locals and the oil companies. Oil fires like this one emit large amounts of carbons into the atmosphere, degrading air quality and contributing to global warming. This is one example of the adverse impacts of resource extraction on our climate.

Photo © Ed Kashi/VII

A shepherd breaks firewood outside a shack on barren grasslands in central China's Ningxia province.

According to the UNDP, desertification has devoured 55.8 percent, or 2.89 million hectares of Ningxia’s total terrain, with additional 1.21 million hectares grassland and 132,000 hectares farmland under the threat of desertification. The livelihood of inhabitants in 13 cities, 40 townships and 600 villages has been severely affected and the region’s vulnerable natural environment is also at stake. Ningxia is one of the major sources of sandstorms that have devastated northern China.

Photo © Katharina Hesse

Children on Han Island in Papua New Guinea play on the beach beside a fallen trunk of a coconut tree whose roots have been exposed by sea erosion of the land. Rising sea levels have eroded much of the area's coastlines and waves have crashed over the islands, flooding and destroying what little crop gardens the islanders have. Food is in short supply, banana and swamp taro crops are failing due to the salt contamination of the land, and the islanders live on a meager one meal per day diet of fish and coconut. There is talk by the Autonomous Region of Bougainville government to relocate the islanders, but this plan is stalled due to a lack of finances, resources, land and coordination.

Photo © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

In Mexico's Chiapas state, Rosa Diaz searches for dwindling coffee cherries on plants infected with coffee leaf rust. The disease has spread fast and furiously in Southern Mexico and throughout Central America in recent years, decimating plants and causing some farmers to lose up to half of their harvests. Many experts believe climate change is to blame. Higher temperatures in the region have allowed the fungus to reach higher altitudes where coffee is grown. As exports have plummeted, the ripple effects on local economies have been and continue to be devastating.

Photo © Janet Jarman

Fishermen clean their nets along the Casamance River in Senegal. Rising sea levels and drought due to climate change are causing the salinization of the region's mangroves, the most important wetlands in Africa, having adverse affects on the livelihoods of local residents.

Photo © JB Russell

Surrounded by an iceberg and drift ice on Greenland's east coast in the polar night while seal hunting with inuit hunters near the isolated settlement of Isortoq (population of 64). A Nature Climate Change study recently suggested that Greenland's glaciers are actually receding faster than originally thought.

Photo © Matthieu Paley/National Geographic

Brownsea Island, Dorset, United Kingdom. The UK will see wetter, milder winters and hotter, drier summers due to global warming. Weather will become both too wet and too dry – and also too cold and too hot – as climate change increases the frequency of extreme events. Recent years have seen highly variable weather in the UK with a drought in early 2012 and the greatest deluge for 250 years and widespread flooding over the winter of 2013-14.

Photo © Paolo Patrizi

Peruvians ride a motorbike across land effected by extensive gold mining and deforestation in Huaypetue, Manu province, Madre de Dios region, Peru. This area was pristine rain forest just twenty years ago.

Photo © Ron Haviv VII

During the great flooding in late 2011, millions of Thai people in central Thailand became homeless. These young men in Ayutthaya province camped nearby the road side for several months. They took a bath and played with water to kill their free time.

In that year, 5 tropical storms hit Thailand direct and indirectly--an increased frequency that some experts argue may be attributable to climate change. Along with mismanagement of irrigation, the storms caused the nation's worst flooding in 70 years.

Photo © Suthep Kritsanavarin

Coal miners ride a hopper out of a mine in Meghalaya, in the northeast corner of India. India has yet to set a cap on its still-growing carbon emissions while other nations, including China, have pledged to reduce theirs. Coal accounted for 44 percent of India’s energy consumption in 2012 while renewable sources like nuclear and hydroelectric plants made up just 5 percent. Now that India’s main priority is to bring electricity to the 300 million Indians who currently live without it, this goal will be cheaply met with coal-fired power plants. India’s attitude toward emission reduction clearly shows the conflict developing nations face in the battle against climate change as they endeavor to climb to developed nation status.

Photo © Suzanne Lee

A child sits on a discarded chair in a flooded district in northern Jakarta. The Indonesian capital is one of the world's most vulnerable cities to climate change. 40 percent of the city is below sea-level resulting in frequent flooding from rising seas and severe weather events. Many parts of the city are also sinking as groundwater is extracted from underneath the urban area and new developments increase the pressure above. It is estimated that up to a third of Jakarta could be underwater within the next 20-30 years

Photo © Sean Gallagher

An Afghan boy shovels away raw sewage to clear a small polluted stream along a hill where houses pack steep slopes that have no proper drainage. Millions of Afghans live in informal settlements occupied without a formal deed, on land with unclear legal ownership. This lack of a functioning land management system, Afghan and international experts say, looms as one of the most serious obstacles to the country’s economic development.

Photo © Paula Bronstein/The Wall Street Journal

The Puerto Viejo river at the La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica, pictured left, is one of the premier sites for ongoing research in lowland rain forests. In particular, work on climate change and its impact on biodiversity in tropical wet forests has become a significant area of study at the station.

Photo © Adriana Zehbrauskas