Exploring the Arctic and Climate Change – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Exploring the Arctic and Climate Change

Since 2002, professional science and natural history photographer Chris Linder has focused on communicating the stories of scientists working in the Arctic and Antarctic. As a research associate at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Physical Oceanography Department, Linder will visit HWS on Wednesday, March 24 to give a talk titled “The Polaris Project: Using Multimedia Storytelling to Educate the Public about Siberia’s ‘Carbon Bomb'” at 7 p.m. in Albright Auditorium.

The core of the Polaris Project is a field course studying arctic system science at the Northeast Science Station in Cherskiy, Siberia (north of the Arctic Circle on the Kolyma River).  It is one of the most remote and beautiful places on the planet.  But it is also potentially one of the most important.  As the planet’s climate warms, carbon that has been frozen away in the permafrost is now being thawed and released into the rivers, lakes, and atmosphere.  Siberia’s “carbon bomb” can have far-reaching impacts on our entire planet and way of life.

In addition to the field course, the Polaris Project includes research experience for undergraduate students in the Siberian Arctic, several new arctic-focused undergraduate courses taught by project scientists at their home institutions, the opportunity for those scientists to initiate research programs in the Siberian Arctic, and a wide range of student science projects and outreach activities. The guiding scientific theme is the transport and transformations of carbon and nutrients as they move with water from terrestrial uplands to the Arctic Ocean, a central issue as scientists struggle to understand the changing Arctic.

Linder joined the 2009 summer Polaris expedition to document the students, the science, and the environment using still photographs and audio/video recordings.  He received a B.S. degree in oceanography from the U. S. Naval Academy and a M.S. in ocean engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program.  He currently divides his time between researching the dynamics of ocean fronts and using photography to educate the public about scientific research.  

Linder’s education and training as an oceanographer give him a special insight into photographing marine science. He has spent over a year of his life on expeditions to the polar regions. His most recent project, titled “Live from the Poles”, connected researchers with the public during the International Polar Year (2007-2009) using daily online photo essays (polardiscovery.whoi.edu) and lectures “from the ice” to museum audiences nationwide via satellite phone. This project, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Richard King Mellon Foundation, took him from the Greenland Ice Sheet to penguin colonies on Antarctica’s Ross Island. Linder’s images have appeared in museums, books, calendars, and international magazines, including Geo (Germany), Nature’s Best, Outdoor Photographer and Wired. A solo exhibition of his photographs, titled “Exploring the Arctic Seafloor,” opened at the Field Museum in Chicago in February 2007 and is currently touring science and natural history museums. He is currently working on a book titled “Science on Ice” for the University of Chicago Press, which will be published in fall 2011. Linder is a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

This talk is free and open to the public.