23 April 2021

#AntarcticLog: Happy Earth Day!

Posted by Shane Hanlon

#AntarcticLog is a series of comics by Karen Romano Young. You can find the originals here

If you think it’s tough scuba diving in icy Antarctic waters, try doing it while pulling up old tires, rails of steel, and other junk. I spent Earth Day, April 22, 2018, at Palmer Station, Antarctica, helping pull old trash out of Hero Inlet. Early researchers had used the inlet as a dump. Now that policies and practices have changed to reflect our understanding of Antarctica’s relatively untouched environment, our group pitched in to clean up. The trash we dragged up would be transported back to the United States for disposal.

A few weeks later, my team of scientists from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences left the Antarctic Peninsula — but only two of us were headed home.  Dr. Paty Matrai and Carlton Rauschenberg headed to the North Pole aboard the Swedish icebreaker Odin.

Aboard Odin, and on the frozen Arctic Ocean, they’d continue their studies of sea surface phytoplankton and their contribution to cloud formation.  The work they did near both Poles had implications worldwide in terms of climate response to warming in the atmosphere.

What’s happening in one spot on Earth affects everything — and even the smallest actions can add up.  Let this be mine… Happy Earth Day!

Karen Romano Young is a writer, artist, deep-sea diver, and polar explorer. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram