By Grace Apostol and Emma Reilly
News Co-Editor and Editor-in-Chief
Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society and Department of Environmental Science and Studies are co-hosting a three-part series on the polar expeditions.
The first of these three events took place on Jan. 30. Arctic Ecologist Dr. Susan Natali led a discussion regarding the local and global impacts of arctic thaw.
The second portion of this series was a screening of the environmental documentary “Into the Ice,” on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. in the Norman James Theatre in William Smith Hall, starring soon-to-be WC guest speaker Arctic Climatologist and Glaciologist Dr. Jason Box.
According to an email sent out on Jan. 24 to the campus community from CES, the documentary is “following three scientists during their research adventures on the Greenland ice sheet.”
The film was introduced by Experiential Program Assistant for the CES Emma Cease ‘22. According to Cease, this screening of the documentary was “the only screening that has been held in the area and possibly even the country.”
Lars H. Ostenfeld, director of the film, did not have much experience with ice. Ostenfeld’s expeditions through bogs in his childhood, and those bogs eventually being overtaken by construction, inspired him to make the documentary.
“My world disappeared,” Ostenfeld said. “And maybe that’s what’s happening now, but now it’s not just my little world.”
Throughout the film, viewers watch Ostenfeld as he follows glaciologists Dr. Jason Box, Dr. Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, and Dr. Alun Hubbard across Greenland.
According to the film, very few scientists actually get out on the ice and most information about it comes from satellites, radar, computer modeling. Data doesn’t tell the full story, though, and scientists need to actually observe the ice first-hand.
Dahl-Jensen who in the past 20 years has led one of the most determined scientific approaches on the ice, said that walking on ice can take one to different ages. “When you walk on the ice, you walk on climate history,” she said. “So you can stand with one leg in the Ice Age and one in the interglacial period…walking through these shelves is like walking through a history book.”
During the film, it is explained that increased amounts of snow and rain affect the melting process, but scientists don’t have much data on how this occurs. Dr. Box, who has been studying glaciers for over a decade and has been on over 30 expeditions, agrees that one must go out and collect the data regarding glaciers. “You have to go down there and find out,” he said.
The expedition taking place in the film was Ostenfeld’s first expedition with Dr. Box, who believes the ice melting is a “disaster in slow motion.”
“I call it the burden of awareness, it’s the opposite of ignorance is bliss,” Dr. Box said. “When you become aware of the reality of climate change, you don’t sleep well at night…the thing with ice is you have to listen, and it will reveal its secrets…it tells us the story.”
Regarding the research done by the scientists, Ostenfeld said there is still a lot unknown. “Deglaciation of inland ice is more complex than recent models tell us,” he said. “There’s still a lot we don’t know.”
It is apparent that all three scientists were passionate for their respective expeditions.
“I do everything that I can to inform the climate change issue, and that’s for…my daughter,” Dr. Box said.
The last event in the series will take place on Feb. 28. Dr. Box himself will lead a discussion titled “Arctic Climate & Greenland Ice: A Talk with Arctic Climatologist and Glaciologist Dr. Jason Box” at Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre. A reception will follow.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Photo Caption: “Into the Ice” evaluated arctic conditions.