Ice and the Sky: bubbles of  fossilised time

Garlanded with honours and academic recognition, French paleo-geologist Claude Lorius still says towards the end of this film that he wonders whether his life will make a difference. He wanders elegiacally through rocks only half covered in ice and stands in the rising tide on some distant atoll, emphasising the ice … Continue reading

COP15 and Antarctica: how soon, how fast, how deep?

Torrents of bandwidth have been dedicated to the Paris climate change conference (COP15). I am not an expert, a scientist or diplomat so I’ve focused on one small question. What about Antarctica, the warning canary of climate change? The standout headline is the commitment to keep global temperatures ‘well below’ 2° … Continue reading

Darkness in the abyss

Glacial melt isn’t only about sea-level rise. It’s about mud. Sediment to be precise. As old ice melts into the sea it brings down all that stuff it’s been sitting on, the mud it has scraped up and absorbed over decades and centuries. Newly exposed, ice-free beaches deteriorate too, putting … Continue reading

The Enduring Eye: Hurley’s record of the Endurance

Ernest Shackleton decided that he wanted a professional photographer with him on the grandly named Imperial Trans-Antarctic Exhibition which left England in 1914, receiving the message that war had broken out shortly after steaming out of port. He chose Frank Hurley, a young Australian. Hurley had a great commitment to … Continue reading

Crab Attack: the ground-hunting rats of Antarctica

  The isolated, unique ecosystem of the New Zealand islands lay undisturbed for millennia with no ground-based predators. Flightless birds evolved, laying eggs in safe nests like this sweetly curled kiwi. Then humans turned up, along with rats: ground-based omnivores which have had a massive impact on all sorts of species. I … Continue reading

Picturing the Far (far) South

There are thousands of pictures about the Far South but many of them are more or less incidental or ‘amateur reportage’. They are stunning because the scenery is amazing, or historically interesting. I wanted to explore how people, particularly women, are present and represented, how we see ‘science being done’ … Continue reading