The Warning Of A Nasa Researcher: "the Arctic As We

The warning of a NASA researcher: “The Arctic as we know it is going to disappear”

This glaciologist has just presented his first essay ‘Ice. Travel through the continent that disappears’. In it he warns about the effects that climate change is already causing in Greenland.

Tedesco has been studying the effects of the climate crisis on Greenland on the ground for more than 15 years.

Behind a scientific publication it is easy to imagine a group of researchers in white coats spending countless hours in a laboratory. However, many studies are more similar to the argument of An adventure book.

This is the case of some of the works of Marco Tedesco (1971), a professor at the columbia university and researcher at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). As a glaciologist, he has spent years studying the melting in the arctic and warning about the effects that the climate crisis is already causing over Greenland.

Now, with a backpack full of stories, anecdotes and experiences to tell, he presents Ice. Journey through the disappearing continent (Gatopardo Editions); a kind of diary, as an essay, in which adventure and science mix in the snow as it melts.

Where does your interest in the Arctic come from?

It goes back 15 or 20 years ago, when I was a NASA scientist studying Greenland, early in my career. From there I began to understand what is causing the changes in this region and what processes are occurring. Eventually, I broadened my interests and began to focus more on the Arctic through fieldwork, expeditions, remote sensing, and data collection. So I became familiar with the terrain.

It is a bit like understanding someone: you can meet a person, which would be Greenland, but to understand their behavior it is just as important to know the social context in which they operate, which would be the Arctic.

As he states in his book, “Greenland is the place to look for the future of the planet.” What do you mean?

To the fact that Greenland is the main contributor to sea level rise; controls our climate and crucially affects water routes. Although this place seems very far away to us, what happens there is very important for the rest of the world. It is the epicenter of much of the phenomena related to climate change.

He has been studying these phenomena for 20 years. What changes have you witnessed?

Naturally, one of the fastest and most amazing things happening in the Arctic is the disappearance of sea ice, which is exposing the darker, warmer ocean. Also, the acceleration of Greenland’s mass loss, the appearance of lakes at higher altitudes due to higher temperatures and the increasing contribution of this region to the rise in sea level.

Another factor is the erosion of permafrost, which negatively affects infrastructure and poses not only a threat to society and people’s lives, but also to the economy. Especially in communities like those in the Arctic that don’t have much wealth or financial support and are already very vulnerable from a social and environmental point of view.

Is it in danger of disappearing?

The Arctic as we know it is going to disappear. Keep in mind that there, unlike other places, a small rise in temperature can mean crossing the threshold that separates freezing from thawing. If the temperature is slightly below freezing, and it rises a little, it will go from a solid state to a liquid state. Clearly, the main cause of all this is the growth of CO emissions2 and other greenhouse gases on a global scale. The warming of the Arctic, which doubles that of the rest of the planet, is an effect of anthropogenic activity. The atmospheric and climatic changes that human beings are producing lead to an acceleration of melting ice and, therefore, of the rise in sea level throughout the world.

According to him, he feels lucky to have been able to develop his career in such a cold and inhospitable environment. What is it like to live in the Arctic?

One of the reasons I wanted to write the book is that I wanted to tell about my experience. Daily life has nothing to do with the routine we are used to. One completely depends on the environment and the weather. We camp on the ice, so we have to make do with what we have and the conditions around us. If something breaks you have to fix it, if someone gets hurt you have to heal him with limited means. This constant challenge is one of the things I enjoy the most.

I love being in the Arctic and in Greenland, the peace and silence that I feel there. It’s almost like traveling to another universe, where life is subject to what you know how to do with your own abilities and how prepared you are. It is a very different challenge from the comfortable life we ​​live in cities, but also much more comfortable than the experience that ancient explorers used to have, thanks to the improvement of equipment and the availability of information and data that we have about the conditions of the terrain. .

What kind of adventures can be lived in this territory?

In the book I describe the noise of the cracking of the ice under the tents, a kind of murmur that rises from the depths. You’re sitting on a layer of ice a kilometer thick, you don’t know what’s going to happen, when it’s going to crack. It certainly commands a lot of respect. Another adventure was the day we witnessed a huge hole in the ice open up right under our noses and suck up a three kilometer and ten meter deep lake in about forty minutes. We saw chunks of ice spinning on the surface of the disappearing lake. Another beautiful experience was when we traveled to the ice sheet, before disembarking, as we had the opportunity to see incredible fauna: reindeer, arctic terns or white eagles, which look a lot like the bald eagle, but is larger and feeds especially fish.

I believe that if you look at things carefully and with interest, even the most boring object can hide a secret inside, thousands of questions and opportunities for discovery and surprise at the beauty of the world.

However, you not only narrate anecdotes and adventures, but they are combined with science. Why have you chosen this format?

My goal was to make a kind of diary on the ground, capturing a set of environmental and geographical landscapes, but also sentimental ones. So I tried to reflect these landscapes using an expedition as a pretext. I am not able to separate my role as a scientist from my passion for protecting the environment, which inevitably arouses emotions and feelings. Scientists tend to separate and keep these two dimensions in separate compartments, but in my case it was not possible. The passion, inspiration, love and beauty that ice and nature transmit to me are a fundamental stimulus that drives me to want to study and understand physical processes. So combining the anecdote and the personal with the science was a natural choice.

Does time go faster there than in the rest of the world?

If you think about the consequences of climate change, time passes faster in the Arctic, since temperatures are rising at a much higher rate than in the rest of the planet. So, technically, you could say that time passes faster in this region where nothing seems to happen and everything is monotony, but in reality the opposite happens. The changes taking place in the Arctic are at least twice as fast as the changes taking place in the rest of the planet.

What story is the Arctic telling us about our planet today?

It is telling us that human beings have an enormous influence on the planet, an influence that can reach any corner of the globe in a relatively short period of time, and that these changes have to be combated if we want to preserve life as we know it. .

How can we protect it?

In the same way as the rest of the planet: reduce CO emissions2, cut these emissions whenever possible, invest in renewable energies and, very importantly, invest in CO capture2 that has filled the atmosphere in recent decades, because if we do not reduce the levels of this gas in the atmosphere, its effects will be felt in the coming decades.

At the same time, we have to start changing the way governments and large financial institutions work so that they promote new regulations, tax incentives and policies that promote technological development and renewable energies that will allow us to stop this climatic drift. Right now, the world situation and the attitude of political leaders are not exactly pointing in the right direction. I am thinking especially of the president of the United States, the country in which I live, or of Brazil, who have clearly said that they do not believe in the idea that climate change has an anthropogenic origin and are governing in the opposite direction. to that evidence.