The Changing Arctic
Throughout human history, the high Arctic has been known as white, remote, inaccessible, and formidable. As our climate changes, the Arctic’s fundamental fabric is changing with it. What was once frozen and rigid is now dynamic and vulnerable. White reflective snow and ice surfaces turn blue as sea ice is lost, and green as tundra blooms. Each summer, the ice melts back and oil and gas developers, fisheries, and tourists venture further north. Moreover, global warming erodes the role the Arctic has long provided: A cold Arctic that steadies weather in the northern hemisphere and an icy Greenland that stabilizes sea level globally. We will explore the implications of ice loss, as well as our options for restoring the ice, considering how and when this should be done, as well as who might do it. Our Arctic “exploration” will include a hands-on activity to bring the Arctic home.
Stephanie L. Pfirman, Professor of Environmental Science at Barnard College, is also on the faculty of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Professor Pfirman was previously a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, a staff scientist for the House of Representatives, an oceanographer for the U.S. Geological Survey, and an Arctic researcher for the GeoMarine Research Institution. In 2016, Pfirman was designated a lifetime National Associate of the National Research Council.