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Professor Peter Wadhams: A Farewell To Ice

Nick Breeze

Nick Breeze

Climate journalist and host of the ClimateGenn podcast.

Polar researcher Professor Peter Wadhams has been visiting the Arctic and Antarctic regions for over 40 years and was known by former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, as “The Ice Man”.

Now, here at COP22, irrespective of the changes in the political landscape, Professor Wadhams brings his message of urgency and action, stating that we must take action by removing Greenhouse Gases in order to restore the atmospheric concentration of gases to a safe level.

A Farewell To Ice

In this recent book A Farewell To Ice, he is saying a personal farewell to ice and a farewell to ice on the planet. Climate change and global warming have accelerated the melt at the poles and are beginning to unravel the climate system. This is worthy read by an established expert with boots on the ground expertise.

It was during these submarine trips that Professor Wadhams started noticing what could not be seen from satellites measuring the sea ice area; namely that the volume of the ice was being greatly melted from below. This discovery showed that the dynamics of change in the Arctic were more complex and happening far faster than had previously been conceived.

Research lecture and Explorer’s Journey

Wadhams begins by taking us through the essential steps of how ice is formed, the difference between single year and multi-year sea ice, and how that fits into the context of deep time history of life on Earth. We get exposure to the language of polar researchers as words like frazil ice or polynyas as mechanisms and processes are clearly defined like pieces of a jigsaw that eventually come together to construct a larger more complex picture.

What is described and the illustrations that accompany the text have an otherness that we might feel when someone is describing the surface of another planet. But that really is the rub. It really is our planet that Wadhams is scrutinising; an essential, delicate, sensitive and rapidly changing part of the Earth system.

Meeting with Professor Wadhams at COP22

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