Science Photographer of the Year Winners Focus on Climate Change

Photography News

The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) has announced the winners of its 2020 Science Photographer of the Year competition, which exists to celebrate the stories behind scientific exploration and application. TPS says this year’s selections throw light on the climate emergency.

The RPS says that the competition is designed to highlight images that show science’s impact on the everyday lives of people and also illustrates and records global issues and scientific events.

The selected images were chosen from over 1,000 entries submitted for free by both amateur and professional photographers.

“This year’s images document our fragile planet, the human cost of global warming, and actions being taken by communities around the world such as innovative irrigation methods and solar and turbine energy sources,” the RPS writes. “They reveal incredible imaging techniques, from microscopic observations, medical examinations, fossil evacuations, and kaleidoscopic patterns of refractions, oscillations, and crystallizations.”

This year’s Science Photographer of the Year is more relevant than ever before in documenting how science and climate change are impacting all our lives. The selected images are striking and will make us think more about the world around us.
– Dr. Michael Pritchard, Director, Education, and Public Affairs at the RPS

The RPS Science Photographer of the Year had four winners, one each in the categories of General Science, Climate Change, Young General Science, and Young Climate Change. The Climate Change category was introduced to reflect this years’ theme of the Manchester Science Festival which is taking place digitally from February 12 through the 21.

Science Photographer of the Year (General Science category)

The wreck of SS Thistlegorm, a ship sunk in the Red Sea in 1941, in an image derived from 15,005 frames. Each was adjusted to give a “straight down” view, before being tagged with GPS data and merged with the others. This ship is a well known recreational dive site (divers at lower right), and is slowly becoming part of the local coral reef. // Photo by Simon Brown

Young Science Photographer of the Year (General Science category)

Sunlight casts a spectrum on a wall having passed through a prism. The photographer cast her own shadow on the wall to let the spectrum shine more clearly. // Katy Appleton

Science Photographer of the Year (Climate Change category)

A signpost depicting the geographic North Pole at 90 degrees north latitude placed on sea ice largely covered with water. Each year the ice cover over the Arctic declines, a direct result of changing global climates. // Photo by Sue Flood

Young Science Photographer of the Year (Climate Change category)

A concentrated solar power (CSP) generating station in China. 12,000 mirrors reflect sunlight toward a central tower where it heats sodium nitrate salt. This goes to a heat exchanger, making steam to drive generator turbines. The thermal inertia is such that the station can continue working through the night, saving up to 350,000 tonnes of CO2 emission per year. // Raymond Zhang

Joining these four winners are a large group of other images from the total entries, a selection of which are below:

A polar bear Ursus maritimus standing on a tiny ice floe in the Arctic Ocean, a powerful symbol of the loss of polar sea ice due to climate change. // Photo by Sue Flood FRPS
Seen through a microscope, a polished slice through a fosislised dinosaur bone reveals multiple colours due to the minerals deposited. The different colours come from changing mineral content as the fossil formed and do not reflect the underlying structure of bone. This image spans a field of 1.2mm. // Photo by Norm Barker ASIS FRPS
Interior view of a Cygnus spacecraft, an expendable unmanned cargo spacecraft used to ferry supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) in Earth orbit. The cargo module has a capacity of 2000kg. // Photo by Enrico Sacchetti
This series of images shows a soap film in front of a loudspeaker while the song “My Way” is being played. The different frequencies of sound create different patterns of thickness in the soap film which show up here as different colors. // Photo by Kym Cox ARPS
Hypnotic patterns formed by a Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ)reaction in a petri dish. Drops of one chemical are added
to another in the dish. The drops seem to radiate concentric rings and spirals as waves of chemical concentrations move through the petri gel. The mathematics behind this were described by Alan Turing. // Photo by Dr. David Maitland FRPS
Two boys try to rescue their potato crop from a field in Bamiyan, Afghanistan after a flash flood. More frequent extreme weather events in the country have been attributed to the effects of climate change. // Photo by Solmaz Daryani
Scientists carefully removing rock from the fossilised vertebrae of a dinosaur discovered in the Lo Hueco area near Cuenca, Spain. A huge deposit from the Upper Cretaceous period (100-66 million years ago) uncovered by construction workers in 2007 has yielded over 10,000 fossil specimens. // Photo by Nuno Perestrelo
North arm of the Advanced VIRGO+ Gravitational Wave Observatory. VIRGO+ comprises two arms, each 3km long, set at right angles to eachother. Laser beams pass up and down these tubes before being recombined to make an interference pattern. A change in this pattern can be caused by a passing gravitational wave. // Photo by Enrico Sacchetti
A sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) tangled in a discarded fishing net. Discarded fishing equipment, known as ghost gear, accounts for up to 640,000 tonnes, or 10%, of all marine litter. Ghost nets entangle a wide range of marine wildlife from whales and sharks to turtles, fish and seabirds. // Photo by Rafael Fernandez
Three girls are engulfed in a dust storm while on their way to school in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. More frequent extreme weather events in the country have been attributed to the effects of climate change. // Photo by Solmaz Daryani

To see the entire gallery of images, visit the online exhibition here.

(via The Guardian)


Image credits: Images individually credited and provided courtesy of the Royal Photographic Society.

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