Imaggeo on Mondays: Glimpse of heaven

The text of this week’s Imaggeo on Mondays comes from the photographer herself, Madlen Gebler, who tells us the tragic story behind this stunning picture.

“Glimpse of heaven” by Madlen Gebler, distributed by the European Geosciences Union under a Creative Commons license.

This picture was taken on the 2nd of March 2008 on board the research vessel Polarstern during the expedition ANT XXIV-3. After a four-week cruise we arrived in Atka Bay, Antarctica, in front of the German Antarctic research station Neumayer. I’ve never seen a sunrise like the one I saw that day and captured in this photograph; it was simply amazing. That morning the sunlight was reflected by the ice in a way which made it sparkle like diamonds with colours from yellow to red.

Shortly after taking this picture, I was standing together with a colleague, Willem Polman, at the bridge’s portside window. We were talking about how privileged we are because our work gives us the chance to visit Antarctica, the most fascinating continent on Earth, in my view. This picture is named “Glimpse of heaven” because it was the last glimpse of heaven before we went through hell. Just three hours after this picture was taken, Willem Polman died together with Stefan Winter in a helicopter accident.

Scientists are privileged people in that their work takes them to amazing places; but we should never forget that sometimes we pay a very high, too high, price for our work. I dedicate this to Willem and Stefan – we missed you sadly during the rest of the cruise.

By Madlen Gebler, Alfred Wegener Institute (Germany)

Imaggeo is the EGU’s online open access geosciences image repository. All geoscientists (and others) can submit their images to this repository and since it is open access, these photos can be used by scientists for their presentations or publications as well as by the press and public for educational purposes and otherwise. If you submit your images to Imaggeo, you retain full rights of use, since they are licensed and distributed by the EGU under a Creative Commons licence.

Bárbara Ferreira was the Media and Communications Manager of the European Geosciences Union from 2011 to 2019. Bárbara has also worked as a science writer specialising in astrophysics and space sciences, producing articles for the European Space Agency and others on a freelance basis. She has a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge.

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