30 July 2021

#AntarcticLog: So Chill

Posted by Shane Hanlon

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

So Chill.

It’s frying hot in these parts, getting to be the Dog Days of Summer. So I thought I’d fill you in on the story behind some of the coolest science — and people — I know, while also filling you in on the sometimes serendipitous way that #AntarcticLog comics come together.

The first comic reached for the cutting age, put together to herald the launch of IceSat 2, a satellite that would “mow the lawn” of the world’s ice fields in order to monitor their condition.

And lo! I received an email from a Palmer Station friend, marine technician Hannah James, who travels from winter on the Antarctic Peninsula to winter in Greenland, with — I hope — at least a little beach life in between.  I knew about Hannah’s work at Palmer: she’s got her hand in everything, showing scientists what they need to know to manage all kinds of equipment and processes.  This comic shows what she did in Greenland to fill a key gap in ice data.

Fast forward a year and a half, and I found my nerdy self visiting NASA’s Wallops Island facility, and put in the kind hands of James Yungel. More serendipity: Jim was involved with Operation IceBridge, which picks up Greenland ice data from the sky.

Along with IceSat2 data — and Hannah’s — scientists get a more complete idea of what’s going on in a quickly-changing ice sheet.

Quickly changing? Oh yes — just look at that map!  Greenland is warming and will continue to do so unless the world can collectively get on top of the situation.

But writing about ice? I may have just let off a little steam, but considering ice — and my hope for the future — cools my head a bit.

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