A team of seven researchers visited Greenland this summer to measure water levels on a river by a glacier over the span of 72 hours. The work they did required two scientists at a time, and was extremely dangerous: they were operating slightly upriver from a sinkhole that would sweep away anyone who fell in.
Filled with risks, the scientists’ efforts are essential – the on-the-ground information collected will enhance data collected from satellite images. This knowledge will help scientists make more accurate projections on the rate of melting, and calculate how quickly the sea will rise as a result of climate change.
A mesmerizing interactive article from the New York Times reports on the work of Dr. Laurence C. Smith, head of the geography department at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his research team. “We scientists love to sit at our computers and use climate models to make those predictions,” he explains, “[b]ut to really know what’s happening, that kind of understanding can only come about through empirical measurements in the field.”
The article details the team’s preparation, work, and unexpected challenges they faced during the research trip. Also noted is the potential of budget cuts for this type of research as suggested by certain leaders in Congress. But we must remember that agency officials and experts who receive federal funds (including the directors of the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) say the research is essential for understanding the changes that will affect the world’s population and economies for more than a century.
Take Action Challenge
Read the full article from the New York Times. Follow #COP21 and #EarthToParis to stay in touch with global conversations about how to deal with the effects of climate change, and let your government leaders know you support funding for scientific research on climate change.
What is #EarthToParis? Check out this new video (complete with Jack Black, Lil’ Bub and adorable hedgehogs) that explains this moment for the world.