3 September 2010

Science Journalist Lee Hotz Talks About Antarctica and Climate

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Lee Hotz at the South Pole. Dan's photo

My trip to Antarctica last January was an amazing adventure but not just for what I saw and experienced. The people I met and those selected to go like I was made it unforgettable.

One of those people was Lee Hotz of the wall Street Journal. He has been a science journalist for many years. This was not his first trip to the ice, but it would be his first trip the ice core drilling site called WAIS Divide.

Lee is a fountain of knowledge and careful reasoned thought. I always looked for him at meal time, and enjoyed hearing his thoughts on everything from history to science. I am envious beyond any shade of green at his writing ability.

We were both scheduled to go to WAIS Divide after our trip to the Pole but the weather turned bad and it was cancelled. This is not only a common circumstance in Antarctica but an almost expected one. Lee had traveled all the way just for the trip to to WAIS and he stayed on a few days and finally got there.

We Both Lucked Out

I lucked out a few months later by getting to go o the other ice core drill site. This one at the top of the world in Northern Greenland. I spent 9 days there and am busy preparing presentations for TV and the web on what I saw at NEEM.

You can get a good idea of why it’s important from Lee in a recent TED talk at Oxford. I can assure you his deep voice and writing skills will far surpass mine.

Lee’s images of WAIS Divide in Antarctica look nearly identical to my pics from the NEEM (Northern Greenland Eemian ice core) site at the other end of the world.

Glaciologist Jim White at NEEM in Greenland. He's the director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the Univ. of Colorado.

These ice cores are among the most urgent science in the world. It’s cold work and it takes a special kind of scientist.
Jim White at the University of Colorado is one. He was instrumental in getting the NSF to go in with Denmark at NEEM.
Ken Taylor at the Dryden Research Institute is another. Taylor is the Principal Investigator at WAIS divide.
As Lee’s talk made clear, the basics are known, but not the details. Those details will tell us just how much damage we have done to our climate already and how much we will do in the coming years. In short, they will tell us just how much time we have (or had) to switch to a cleaner way of making our energy.