We hear about the big picture of climate change almost every day — the threats it poses, the effects on our world and lives, the fight to stop it. Across the world, armies of researchers are contributing pieces to that big picture narrative every day. They often travel long distances and brave the elements to collect information, one small data point at a time.
How do Antarctic penguins fare when warming temperatures bring changing conditions to a part of the continent? How do we really know what Earth’s climate was like in the past, and how it compares to today? What’s it like to spend months living on an old oil drilling ship, in search of tiny ancient fossils? On this special episode of The Pulse, we go behind the headlines to spend time with scientists on the front lines of climate research. We’ll hear how they’re collecting data, what they’re learning, and what keeps them motivated.
Also heard on this week’s episode:
- The Antarctic Peninsula is experiencing some of the fastest warming on Earth — and scientists are already seeing the effects among two of the region’s penguin populations: the Adélie and the Gentoo. Reporter Sophia Schmidt talks with penguin researchers about what changes they’re witnessing, and why.
- We talk with leading climate scientist Kim Cobb about her work in the field of paleoclimatology, and what studying coral — old and new — can tell us about the earth’s ancient climate history. She also explains what’s next on the horizon in our fight against global warming. Cobb is director of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, and a recent addition to President Biden’s Intelligence Advisory Board.
- There’s a certain way we expect scientists to communicate — in calm, measured tones that prioritize facts over feelings. But science communicator Joe Duggan thought that feelings were an important part of the narrative — a powerful tool to communicate how urgent climate research is. He decided to ask scientists to express their emotions about their work and the fate of the planet in letters. Nichole Currie reports on his project.
- On a beach in the Siberian Arctic, a marine biologist lives in a small hut and waits for more than 100,000 walruses to pile their massive bodies on shore. The walruses overcrowd the beach and sometimes die due to stampedes. This coming out-of-the-water phenomenon is called a “haulout,” and it’s a result of climate change. Filmmaker Evgenia Arbugaeva talks about documenting this phenomenon and the scientist who studies the walruses. “Haulout” was nominated for an Academy Award for best Documentary Short Film this year.