September 24, 2012

Icy Antarctica is a Hot Bed For Discovery

Antarctica is known for being a scientific hotspot (despite the freezing cold!) for measuring the effects of climate change, and today there are multiple scientific research stations (such as the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, as well as McMurdo station on Ross Island and Palmer station on Anvers Island) that help scientists stay up-to-date on what climate change is affecting and how.

In 2008, scientists discovered the fossil of a lake ostracod in the Dry Valleys of East Antarctica. No other fossil like it has been found on the entire continent of Antarctica. The fossil finding provided evidence that  this region of Antarctica was much warmer- warm enough to support lake fauna with ostracods- about 14 million years ago. Since that period, it is blatantly apparent that Antarctica has experienced a substantial and intense cooling which has since buried these lakes under layers and layers of ice. What was once a tundra is now an iceland. These findings have given scientists a better understanding of how the Antarctic ice-sheet developed, which will in turn allow them to better understand the effects of global warming.

In recent years, researchers have discovered that the retreat of sea ice in some parts of Antarctica is detrimentally affecting some Antarctic species, and the recent warming of water temperature is adding to the proliferation of  undersea giants in the region.

Look at the size of these sea stars! They’re huge! Antarctica is also the prime location for researchers to follow the changing state of our ozone layer as well as the further implications of global warming’s effects on the environment as a whole.

However, the effects of climate change aren’t the only things Antarctica is revealing to scientists. Researchers are also currently studying adaptations of various life-forms that allow them to withstand the harsh conditions of living in Antarctica as well as how those adaptations may be used to benefit human health. They are also studying how they themselves and other researchers are faring in the conditions of the Antarctic in hopes of learning how humans could survive other extreme ecosystems.

Research in Antarctica may hold many of the answers we seek about the future of the planet in the context of climate change as well as many other fascinating findings. If you want to know more about all the different types of research going on in Antarctica check out the United States Antarctic Program.

January 5, 2012

Inuit Knowledge Podcasts

My northern cousins now got their own podcasts, and it’s a great thing for all the people below who wonder what it’s like to live even further north than the Arctic Circle.  This is a pretty cool thing.  So warm up your iPod or whatever you use and check them out. It’s a project of the National Park system up in Nunavut, Canada/Inuit Territory, and it’s called Inuit Knowledge Podcasts.

Telling it like it is.

Scroll down the page a bit, and you can find out what Inuit folks know about polar bear behavior, cultural stuff like the qulliq (a traditional Inuit oil lamp that’s a symbol of knowledge and survival), and about how they transmit knowledge to each other, an, hello, some Inuit perspectives on the environmental changes they’ve witnessed in their lifetimes.  I like the Inuit sayings and indicators that have to do with the environment.

Check it out.  A real eye-opener, probably.

I gotta go ring this guy up.  See you later.


November 27, 2011

This stuff exists

Paul Nicklen is a white man who grew up in an Inuit community way up in Northern Canada near Greenland.  He takes pretty amazing pictures of polar bears, seals, penguins and the like for magazines like National Geographic.  He’s trying to put (animal) faces to the story people otherwise are getting kinda sick of — that polar ice is disappearing.

Watching him talk about the polar food chains, you can see his respect for the fragility of the world he grew up in.

I appreciate that.

It takes guts to hang out in the water for days on end with leopard seals.  He’s putting his money where his mouth is.  He’s funny, too.

Gotta restock my shelves.  See you later.

November 16, 2011


Mathias Kessler is our next artist who creates photographs, video art, and installations, often featuring large-scale representations of natural landscapes. His work is particularly ambitious due to the challenges of traveling to extremely remote areas, transporting large amounts of equipment, and capturing high-quality images that can be printed in large or panorama formats. He has some incredible stories about traveling to untouched landscapes, “disaster tourism,” and modern-day exploring. His thoughts about the relationship of science to these landscapes and capturing all of these ideas in his art are not to be missed.

He was born in Austria and currently lives and works in New York. Recent solo shows have been exhibited at the National Museum for Photography in Russia, GL Holtegaard Museum in Denmark, and the Volta Art Fair in New York.
For more about his projects, please visit​index.html





Interview conducted by Alix Lambert. Alix Lambert is an artist, author and filmmaker. She is an Associate Artist of The Civilians and is conducting this ongoing series of interviews for The Great Immensity. Please click HERE for more of her interviews in this series!

October 28, 2011

Arguing about Greenland

Hola, my friends.

In my work I see certain effects of climate change on the biodiversity.  But those who work with glaciers, ice, and snow see a very different ones.  An American colleague sent me a link to a story in the New York Times I find amusing…

Britain’s Comprehensive Atlas of the World came out with a new edition, in which Greenland looks as though it has lost about 15 percent of its ice since 1999, with large portions of the coast ice-free.

The map that made the scientists go -- how do you say? Ballistic.

Climate scientists and glaciologists went crazy about it, saying the map is “a fiasco” — that the actual percentage is more like one-tenth of 1 percent, and that nobody from the atlas consulted with the actual experts on this subject. The publishers fired back that they’re sticking by the data, but then investigation revealed “mistakes were made” in the creation of the map.  So they’re making a new map of Greenland that will “more effectively” represent the reality.

I never thought I would hear scientists are saying climate change isn’t as bad as it looks…  or that a map would look worse than reality!

Reminds me of the movie called The Dead Zone, in which the marvelous actor Christopher Walken yells, “The ice is gonna break!” But in reverse.  “The ice is still very solid and very much there!”  Hehe.


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