Himalayan Glacial Lakes (starts at 5:20) Some scientists conduct their experiments in a laboratory — think clean white walls, artificial lighting, A.C. and a convenient coffee pot not far away. Not so for Ulyana Horodyskyj, a graduate student at the University of Colorado. For the last few years she’s been looking at glaciers and the lakes on top of them in Nepal. Last year she spent a year looking at how pollution affects glaciers high in the Himalayan Mountains. She hoped to set up the ultimate high-altitude laboratory on the oxygen-thin slopes of Mount Everest, but a fatal accident intervened. On this edition of How on Earth, she talks about her latest research, Himalayan glaciers and what it is like to do science at the top of the world.
Hosts: Jane Palmer, Joel Parker Producer, Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producers: Jane Palmer, Kendra Krueger Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
On Friday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, better known as the IPCC, released the first bit of its Fifth Assessment Report, a volume with a plain name that may have a large influence on global policy. This first part of the report, part one of three, is the “sciency” part, documenting the current state of knowledge of climate change and its effects. The report sticks to the physical science of climate change—by how much the climate is changing, what’s causing it, and what the world might look like by the end of the century. The next two volumes of the report will address the societal impacts of climate change and, lastly, mitigation strategies.
HOE co-host Beth Bartel speaks with Tad Pfeffer, a professor at CU-Boulder jointly appointed between the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, (INSTAAR), and the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering. Pfeffer is one of the lead authors on Chapter 13 of the IPCC report, the chapter on sea level rise.
Feature #1: (start time: 06:03) On January 12, 2010, just over three years ago, a magnitude 7 earthquake shook Haiti, taking more than 200,000 lives and displacing an estimated 2 million. Still today, the International Organization for Migration estimates hundreds of thousands of people are without permanent homes, and in many ways Haiti seems no closer to rebuilding than it did three years ago. Co-host Beth Bartel speaks to Haiti’s first seismologists — Roby Douilly and Steeve Symithe, both graduate students at Purdue University — about the future of Haiti and a career in seismology there
Feature #2: (start time: 15:42) You’ve probably heard by now that 2012 was the warmest ever in the U.S. We’re not the only ones overheating. At the bottom of the world, over the last 50 years, West Antarctica has warmed more than scientists had thought. The implications are huge; an enormous ice sheet there may be at risk of long-term collapse, which could cause sea levels to rise alarmingly. Co-host Susan Moran speaks with Andrew Monaghan, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, or NCAR, here in Boulder. Dr. Monaghan co-authored the study, which was recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Hosts: Susan Moran and Beth Bartel Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Jim Pullen Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender
Leaky Natural Gas Wells (start time 6:22). We speak with Greg Frost, a scientist from the University of Colorado at Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), about a new study, which is being published by the Journal of Geophysical Research. The study indicates that natural gas drilling creates higher amounts of methane leakage into the atmosphere than previous estimates had indicated. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and unless this problem of leakage is solved, there is concern that drilling for natural gas might cause higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than burning coal. We also offer an extended version of this interview.
Recent Contributions of Glaciers and Ice Caps to Sea Level Rise (start time 14:25). Scientists at CU’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research now have used eight years worth of satellite data to a clearer picture of how climate change is impacting the cryosphere, or ice-covered parts of the planet. (See animations here.) Knowing how much ice has been lost during this time can help scientists understand how melting ice might contribute to sea level rise, both now and in the future. But there have been conflicting stories in the press about how the results should be interpreted. We talk with Tad Pfeffer, one of the study’s coauthors, to discuss what’s really happening to the Earth’s ice.
Hosts: Joel Parker & Breanna Draxler Producer: Joel Parker Engineers: Jim Pullen & Shelley Schlender Additional contributions: Beth Bartel Executive producer: Shelley Schlender