Wang Xiangjun: China’s ‘Glacier Bro’ presumed dead after going missing near icy lake

The 30-year-old environmentalist had photographed more than 70 glaciers in southwest China over seven years

Namita Singh
Thursday 31 December 2020 10:12
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Wang Xiangjun was well known for his efforts to highlight the impacts of climate change
Wang Xiangjun was well known for his efforts to highlight the impacts of climate change

Wang Xiangjun, a young Chinese environmentalist known to his fans as “Glacier Bro”, is presumed dead after falling into a glacier waterfall that he was exploring in Tibet

The 30-year-old had photographed more than 70 glaciers in southwest China over the past seven years, documenting the impact of climate change on the ice formations. 

He disappeared on 20 December, however, after he is believed to have fallen into icy waters in Lhari County near Nagqu city. Local authorities said rescue efforts were under way but have so far not found any traces of him.  

"He could be under an ice floe. The water is 10 to 20 meters deep. It's almost impossible (for him to survive)," said a local official quoted by the state-run newspaper, The Global Times

A statement from Wang’s Douyin account, widely quoted by Chinese media houses, confirmed his suspected death. The administrator shared one last video of the waterfall and wrote: "My brother lies forever in his favourite waterfall. We hope that people do not hype [his demise]. He was obsessed with glaciers all his life while dedicating himself to them, and this was the best place for him to rest."

Wang, born to a rural family in southwest China's Sichuan province in 1990, began exploring and photographing glaciers in 2012. He first became fascinated with the geological phenomenon when he saw an advertisement featuring a glacier on the side of a bus. 

In December 2019, Wang was invited to the 25th UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain to share his experience of shooting glaciers.  At the conference, he showed the pictures of the landscapes that he had recorded over the years, as he shared his worries over their steady melt. 

"Most people know little about glaciers. If they don't know what a glacier is, how could they want to protect glaciers and prevent global warming?" Wang was quoted as saying. “They'll just assume it has nothing to do with them."

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