In a rapidly warming world, conflicts inevitably arise between those affected by dwindling resources and changing climate conditions. Josh Fisher’s work centers on trying to avert conflict and provide opportunities for cooperation through understanding the relationships between conflict, environment and development.
When you travel northbound on Alaska’s famous Dalton Highway heading toward the Arctic Sea, the northern edge of the world, you carry a radio to communicate with the enormous rigs that roar along the road, the giant trucks made famous by the History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers. Radio messages between truckers and non-truckers are simple and polite. They let each other know when it’s safe to pass, if a wide load is coming your way, or if the conditions ahead are dangerous or treacherous – snow drifts, slush flows, avalanches, washouts and the like.
Twice humans have witnessed the wasting of snow and ice from Peru’s tallest volcano, Nevado Coropuna—In the waning of the last ice age, some 12,000 years ago, and today, as industrial carbon dioxide in the air raises temperatures again. As in the past, Coropuna’s retreating glaciers figure prominently in the lives of people below. In an ongoing project, scientists at Columba University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and partner institutions are reconstructing the ebb and flow of ice on Coropuna since the last ice age to understand how the tropics influence the global climate system, how ice-loss and a warmer climate will impact farming in the region, and what adaptation measures might help people survive in this hotter, drier world.
Lamont-Doherty scientist Hugh Ducklow is featured in a documentary due out next summer on climate change and the West Antarctic Peninsula. Catch a preview in this newly-released trailer.
I returned to New York on Monday, but Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientists Andy Juhl and Craig Aumack remain working in Barrow, Alaska for another week. They’ll continue to collect data and samples in a race against deteriorating Arctic sea ice conditions as the onset of summer causes the ice to thin and break up.
It’s near midnight and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory researchers Andy Juhl and Craig Aumack, and Arizona State’s Kyle Kinzler are gathered around a table in their lab at the Barrow Arctic Research Consortium discussing the best way to catch an isopod.
One of the goals of Andy Juhl’s and Craig Aumack’s Arctic research is to determine the role of ice algae as a source of nutrition for food webs existing in the water column and at the bottom of the Arctic ocean.
Our team spent most of Friday on the Arctic sea ice, drilling and sampling ice cores at our main field site. For each core collected, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientists Andy Juhl and Craig Aumack take a number of different physical, chemical and biological measurements
On Thursday we lowered a camera into an ice borehole to get a look at the underside of the ice. In the following video, you can clearly see the algae living in the bottom of the ice due to their pigments, which they use to harvest light.
Fieldwork is exciting and inspiring, leading scientists to new ideas, places and observations about how the world works. Spring on Alaska’s North Slope provides an especially productive environment for fieldwork. When the sun never sets, it’s easy to linger in the field and the lab long into the well-lit night.