August 17, 2015: Newsy

I haven’t had time to write for a few days. I can only check in briefly now.  Over the past few days we had CBS News visiting us. They flew in via Air Greenland charter from Thule – a big Bell-212; a behemoth compared to our little helicopters. It was a huge effort on their part, trying to capture a complex project in a hostile environment in just two days. We got lucky on the weather. They camped by the glacier at Boulder Camp (about 45 minutes flight away, protected by our bear guard Chris), and we transported the whole group to the ship on Sunday using both of Oden’s08-18_CBS1 helicopters. Lucky we chose that day because it was far too windy on Monday for operations. CBS filmed a coring operation and interviewed some people, then left for their camp.  On Monday weather was OK at the camp, so they observed boulder sampling and interviewed me there with a  great view overlooking Petermann Glacier.  We then proceeded to the ice shelf camp to check out the drilling and water sampling there.  After CBS left for Thule, we packed up their tents and I was so tired I fell asleep on a pile of cargo nets (luckily no polar bears wandered by because I was out cold).

It is often hard for scientists like me to set aside our scientific jargon and communicate the full complexity of our task in non-technical sentences, and I just hope that we all communicated clearly.  I appreciate the effort CBS News made to learn more about what we are doing and I really value their intent to provide careful and responsible journalism rather than sensational sound bites.  They were nice people; a pleasure to work with.  Our central message was about doing the hard gritty work of figuring 08-18_CBS2out how the system works, with particular focus about how fast ice might melt and retreat based on past behavior and careful analysis of modern processes.  This isn’t political and it isn’t as glamorous as cartoonish catastrophe stories, but it is essential for getting the science right. The Petermann Glacier system is the perfect natural laboratory to do this, because although it is big, it isn’t so huge that we can’t measure it from top to bottom.  Here we can see the full picture, take the long view, and get the story right.