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Caught in the Storm

WHILLANS ICE STREAM, ANTARCTICA– In this audio dispatch I describe the storm that temporarily halted our research and left us stranded in our tents. Listen to the sounds of the storm when I stick the phone outside the tent!

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2 Responses »

  1. This is very scary … the menacing sound of the wind! Hope you enjoyed your time down there. Knowing you, I am sure you did every bit of it. Did you see any polar bears or other (dangerous?) animals? How are the camps protected from such dangers? What eveidence of Global Warming did you see/observe? Was not able to join the webcast yesterday but will check it out later tonight. Must say the picture of you looks just like your intrepid mom. Happy New Year and glad to have you back.

  2. I’m so glad I stuck the phone out of the tent in this audio dispatch– it really gives you a sense of what it felt like out there. We played that clip during our last webcast at the Exploratorium, and despite having been back in the states for about a month by that point, hearing it again put me right back inside that tent.

    To answer your question about animals, there actually aren’t any land predators in Antarctica. I know that the media can make it very confusing– far too often, people see advertisements, etc. showing polar bears and penguins together. In reality, though, it’s physically impossible to find them on the same end of the earth. Polar bears only live in the Arctic, and penguins only live in Antarctica.

    In terms of your global warming inquiry, there’s no question that it is visibly affecting Antarctica. The instruments that we placed on this trip will measure the rise and fall of lakes underneath the ice– sending us important information on how the subglacial lakes and streams are changing. Despite the fact that we were gathering data on climate change-related issues, because we were out on the ice sheet, obvious manifestations of global warming weren’t physically visible to us on a day-to-day basis. They have been though– in this season particularly– to other scientists in Antarctica. Two other Ice Stories projects to check out on this site are “Ross Sea Penguins” and “Melting Antarctica.” In the first, a scientist who has been studying penguins for 30 years has been documenting the startling changes he’s been seeing this season. In the latter, the research group is studying ecosystem changes at the fastest-warming site on the planet. To find specific posts related to global warming, click “climate change” on the “Browse by Theme” sidebar.