From: Nick Frearson, Gravimeter Instrument Team, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Hi there! I’m senior engineer at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, and my role in Operation Ice Bridge is to work with the gravimeter. This instrument can see beneath ice sheets into the water and bedrock below to reveal the hidden shape of this part of the ice sheet – critical information for predicting how ice sheets will change as the climate warms.
I see the importance of the poles as an indicator of change. There you can see how sensitive the environment is and how easy it is to upset its delicate balance. Changes to the ice sheets at the poles will change sea levels and climate around the world.
I have traveled to both poles and like the wildlife, solitude and shear expansiveness of these amazing places that remind me constantly of how fragile life is. I enjoy thinking on my feet and solving problems with limited resources — so different from our normal civilized lives.
On my last trip to Antarctica, we mapped a huge and remote ice-covered mountain range in the middle of the continent, trying to understand how and when the ice sheets formed. Inside my tent I could hear the constant whispering of the wind over the snow, mixed with the music of Radiohead, Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Imogen Heap, among many others.
I miss my friends when I’m away. Two summers ago, I went to Canada’s Ellesmere Island with my good colleague, Michael Studinger, to test gravity instruments near the North Pole. The island is stunning with windswept hillsides leading down to frozen fjords. I walked for miles across the island, observing Musk Ox and wolves go about their lives. Back at camp, I enjoyed listening to other scientists talk about their travels.
I hope that you enjoy reading about our exploits flying over Antarctica as much as I’ll enjoy taking part in them.
Nick Frearson from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
“at home in his snow hole near Mount Erebus,
Antarctica, Christmas 2008.”