Chasing Ice / Extreme Ice Survey

I have not written about the new move “Chasing Ice”, because so many others have written about it. The official website here; and the official trailer is here:

However, for those of us living in a country where it is has not yet made it to the cinemas, there are already some amazing videos from the “Extreme ice survey” – the project that is the basis for the movie.

First, we have James Balog’s TED talk from 2009, which you find at the TED website or here: 

PBS Nova also made an episode dedicated to the extreme ice survey. (Season 3/2009 episode 10.) For those with an US ip-address it can probably be watched here:

For those with an US iTunes account the PBS Nova episode can be bought for a small amount here: 

The extreme ice survey website also has many nice stop-motion videos of glaciers acting like giant conveyor belts:



Jennifer Francis on the implications of loosing Arctic sea ice

Today was the day that the Arctic sea ice extent of the NSIDC reached a new record low, since the previous record in 2007. The picture shows the observed sea ice extent (see the record in 2007), it is not updated with the recent record but as of today the black line should go lower than 2007. (The figure and full legend can be found at NSIDC).

This is of course important news, and the environmental journalist George Monbiot argued that this “disperses another belief: that the temperate parts of the world – where most of the rich nations are located – will be hit last and least, while the poorer nations will be hit first and worst.” He also points to a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters, which “shows that Arctic warming is likely to be responsible for the extremes now hammering the once-temperate nations.”

The paper is: Francis, J. A. and S. J. Vavrus (2012), Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L06801, doi:10.1029/2012GL051000.

Jennifer Francis recently gave this presentation at the Weather and Climate Summit, where she explains her findings. It is a really good presentation that explains the findings in an accessible way (sometimes the language is somewhat technical, which is understandable since it is aimed at the target audience of the summit, i.e., television weathercasters and meteorologists)

The presentation is about 60 minutes long, followed by a Q&A session.

This is Jennifer Francis’ biography at the Weather and Climate Summit website:

Jennifer Francis | Research Professor | Rutgers University

Jennifer Francis earned a B.S. in Meteorology from San Jose State University in 1988 and a PhD in Atmospheric Sciences from the University Washington in 1994. As a professor at Rutgers University since 1994, she taught courses in satellite remote sensing and climate-change issues, and also co-founded and co-directed the Rutgers Climate and Environmental Change Initiative. Presently she is a Research Professor with the Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences and studies Arctic climate change and Arctic-global climate linkages with ~40 peer-reviewed publications on these topics. During the 13 months from July 2009-July 2010, her family of four spent a year sailing through Central America. She and her husband circumnavigated the world in a sailboat from 1980-1985, including Cape Horn and the Arctic, which is when she first became interested in Arctic weather and climate.

James Hansen: “Human-Made Climate Change: A Scientific, Moral and Legal Issue”

This is the lecture I recommend to my friends to start with, if they want a concise description of the science and the challenges that lies ahead. It is really a wonderful lecture by Dr. James Hansen aimed towards the general public.

The talk is called “Human-Made Climate Change: A Scientific, Moral and Legal Issue” and is ca 50 minutes long (it starts at 05:20 and ends at about 58:10, followed by Q&A). The talk was recorded at Hansen’s New Zealand tour in spring 2011 at the University of Otago, NZ.

The talk is also available as a podcast from iTunes U here:

From the iTunes U description: “Dr. James Hansen is the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University?s Earth Institute. He is best known for bringing the urgency of the climate change issue to the world?s attention when he gave evidence to the US congress in 1988. Jeanette Fitzsimons, prominent NZ environmentalist, says: “Dr. Hansen is one of the best-known climate scientists in the world. He offers a recipe for how to achieve a stable climate that will be particularly relevant to New Zealand.” Held May 18, 2011.

The lecture draws much from the paper “The Case for Young People and Nature: A Path to a Healthy, Natural, Prosperous Future” by James Hansen, Pushker Kharecha, Makiko Sato, Paul Epstein, Paul J. Hearty, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Camille Parmesan, Stefan Rahmstorf, Johan Rockstrom, Eelco J.Rohling, Jeffrey Sachs, Peter Smith, Konrad Steffen, Karina von Schuckmann, James C. Zachos.

An interesting paper with an unusual title by a long list of distinguished authors. The paper can be downloaded here:  20110505_CaseForYoungPeople or from James Hansen’s homepage (you find it under 2011).

Documentary of Research on The Pine Island Glacier and Lecture by Dr. Robert Bindschadler

This post contains two great videos.

The first is called “The Pine Island Glacier Research Expedition” and is a brilliant documentary in four short parts showing some of the challenges involved in doing science on the ground in Antarctica. It includes amazing footage from the ice-shelf of the Pine Island Glacier (“PIG”), the most active glacier in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (“WAIS”).

The Pine Island Glacier has been called the “weak underbelly of the west antarctic ice sheet”, because it could be a potential the trigger for a collapse of the WAIS, eventually leading to several meters of sea level rise. (See this Real Climate post by Mauri Pelto for some background of the PIG, including some scientific papers.)

The documentary portraits the first season of the multi-year project “Ocean-Ice Interaction in the Amundsen Sea: the Keystone to Ice-Sheet Stability” (love their logo below)

It focuses on the work on the ground by expedition leader, Dr. Robert Bindschadler, Chief Scientist, Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Dr. David M. Holland, Professor of Mathematics, Center for Atmosphere Ocean Science. The documentary is very professionally produced by POLAR-PALOOZA and PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE. The videos can be downloaded from their site. But I have also uploaded them, for your convenience (see below).

The project has since continued, after many problems and delays. The expedition homepage has lots of interesting information, including up-to-date blog posts from Antarctica by Bindschadler himself, and others in the team. For some more context, see also this interview of Dr. Bindschadler.

The second video is a lecture by Dr. Bindschadler, called “Waking Giants: Ice Sheets in a Warming World (see below).

Dr Bindschadler is an excellent speaker and in his talk he gives an overview of the causes of concern for sea level rise. He is also more frank than is often heard from glaciologists. For example, he says that “there is no physical reason … that those outlet glaciers won’t just eat out the heart of the Greenland ice sheet” (0:51-)

and regarding the outlet glaciers in Antarctica, “there is no reason they should’t be draining the entire marine-based part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheets, and perhaps similar to the East Antarctic Ice Sheet” (0:52-ff)

The Documentary (descriptions from POLAR-PALOOZA):

“In part 1, “The Road Less Traveled”, NASA’s Bob Bindschadler and NYU’s David Holland set off for Antarctica and explaining their mission. Then, accompanied by a mountaineer and POLAR-PALOOZA’s embedded cameraman, they head off to the WAIS Divide Camp, jumping off point for their trip to the PIG, the Pine Island Glacier.”

“Part 2, “To The Ice Shelf And Back”, sees Bindschadler land on the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf, a place no human has ever visited before. All seems to be going well, but en route back to WAIS to collect more gear, Bob’s told that the landing site is too hard for more safe touchdowns. Bitterly disappointed, back at WAIS, he works with Holland to get as much science data as possible. They get permission from NSF to deploy their Automated Weather Station. Will bad weather and crevasses stymie that plan too?”
“Part 3, “A Weather Station will be Installed”, we accompany Holland, mountaineer Galen Dossin, and videographer Cliff Leight as they manhandle the heavy AWS in place, and assemble the electronics, solar panels and wind turbines. At first, the weather’s fine, but then – as always in Antarctica – conditions change, and testing has to be done in blowing snow and wind. It’s even worse at WAIS: they have to wait, marooned in the field, for the flight that will come to retrieve them from a successful deployment.”
“Part 4, “Antarctica Is In Charge”. Reunited, the full team deploys two GPS units which they hope will document the rapid movement of the PIG. Holland and Bindshadler explain the significance of their work, their recognition that weather and logistics dictate what any researcher can achieve here, and yet express their satisfaction at visiting places no human ever has before, and surmounting challenges in order to have a good shot at getting data needed for humans to figure out the future.”

The Lecture:
Lecture by Dr. Bindschadler, called “Waking Giants: Ice Sheets in a Warming World”, presented 2010 at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth in the Jones Seminar on Science, Technology, and Society. (The lecture is 55 min 30 sec, followed by Q&A),

NOAA: Time history of atmospheric CO2 (2011 update)

This is an amazing visualization of the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere from today to 800 000 years ago made by  the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The video is credited to Andy Jacobson, CIRES/NOAA.

The full video (3min 14s) shows direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere at more and more data points over the globe (1979-2011), then the Keeling data set from Mauna Loa (1958-1979), then finally CO2 concentrations in bubbles captured in ice cores drilled from the Antarctic ice sheets. In the first segment, note especially how the seasonal changes changes the CO2 concentrations more in of the northern hemisphere than in Antarctica (compare the red and blue dots). This is simply a brilliant visualization of a massive amount of research over more than half a century.

The HD-video (.mp4) can be downloaded here (e.g. for use in presentations):

A shorter and simplified version (59 seconds) is here:

The same short video is included in this NOAA clip, with a narrative by Dr. James Butler, NOAA:

James E. Hansen: “Earth’s energy imbalance” GISS Lunch Seminar 20110413

This is a really interesting presentation by Dr. James Hansen (NASA GISS/Columbia) of the main points from a paper, now published as:

Hansen, J., Sato, M., Kharecha, P., and von Schuckmann, K.: Earth’s energy imbalance and implications, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 27031-27105, doi:10.5194/acpd-11-27031-2011, 2011.

The paper can be downloaded for free at the journal website  here. The reviewers’ comments are also available.

The slides Hansen show in the presentation are hard to see in the video, but the figures are all in the paper referenced above.

Hansen’s presentation is not primarily aimed towards the general public, but he explains many of basic concepts and assumptions that are made in the paper, so it is not too hard to follow the presentation, especially if you also read the paper.


Richard B. Alley at AGU09: “The Biggest Control Knob”

Image from Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog.

“The Biggest Control Knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Climate History” (57:06)

Bjerknes Lecture at AGU2009. Presented by Richard B. Alley Earth and Environmental Systems Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA

Great lecture by the master science communicator Prof. Alley.  The talk covers the very basics of paleoclimate: how do we know that CO2 is the main driver of climate.

The lecture is available for download at the AGU website, but unfortunately it is only available in flash format.

For your convenience I have made a vimeo-version available:

Richard Alley at AGU09 from Per Wikman Svahn on Vimeo.

There are a number of good posts written about the lecture, if you want to read more about it before you watch it:

Dave’s landslide blog.

Steve Easterbrook

Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog.