The European Polar Board and Swedish Research Council recently week hosted a workshop in Tarfala, northern Sweden, focussed on developing outreach and communication efforts in Europe. It was an amazing venue, set at a research station surrounded by glaciers. The group consisted of artists, writers, press and media, photographers, publicity professionals, museum curators, scientists and IPY national representatives.
On a hike up to a glacier, I asked one new colleague, Luigi Folco from the Museo Nazionale dell 'Antartide in Sienna, to write a piece for the IPY webpage. This is what follows. Lucia Simion took the accompanying photos.
Like gigantic bulldozers, glaciers move stones and boulders down the valley. Piles of rubble (moraines) detached from the glaciers lie in the Tarfaladalen valley bottom, indicating that the bulldozers have backed up. Gunhild (Ninis) Rosqvist, glaciologist and Director of the Tarfala station, tells us that glaciers have melted away and retreated some 500m over the last century in this Arctic region. The roar of melt-water streams actually inundates the Tarfaladalen valley. Nature is giving us the tangible and dramatic evidence of the global warming which is affecting our planet. I stop for a moment and try to imagine what this valley will look like in the near future, and how the local flora and fauna will migrate to find their own habitat…
Scientists from all over the world have emphasised the relevance of the Polar Regions for understanding climate change since the International Geophysical Year in 1956. Some of the major findings during the last fifty years include the discovery of the ozone hole, the reconstruction of the climatic history of our planet over the last million years, and estimates of sea level changes in case of melt-out of the polar ice sheets. Scientists will gather together again in an international cooperative effort within the framework of the International Polar Year 2007/08 to get a better picture of what is going on and what is going to happen on our planet.
My hope is that people and governments will take into consideration the outcome of these studies, understand the social, political, and economical effects that global change will have on the course of humanity, and endorse appropriate long-term policies. I think this is the major message I would like to take back home from this extraordinary place and communicate it to people. So, stay tuned!
What is IPY
Tuesday, 19 September 2006 05:16
Tarfala WorkshopWritten by Rhian Salmon
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