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Climate Change Institute Researchers Heading to South Georgia Island

Researchers with UMaine’s Climate Change Institute will be blogging while on a trip to South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic Ocean. The expedition members are Climate Change Institute Director Paul Mayewski, UMaine graduate students Bjorn Grigholm and Mariusz Potocki, UMaine postdoctoral researcher Dan Dixon, Chilean researchers Gino Casassa and Marcelo Arevalo, EMT medic Alex Kuli, and freelance journalist Alex George Kuli. The Kuli South Georgia Expedition team is expecting to return Nov. 4, depending on weather. Before leaving on the trip, Mayewski delivered a talk on “Climate Change — Perspectives, Realities and Future Change” at Chile’s Universidad de Magallanes — American Corner. The lecture featured research work in South America and Antarctica.

For more information about the Climate Change Institute go to climatechange.umaine.edu. To follow the expedition go to expenews.com/en/expeditions/289/dispatches/4306. The first blog entry is below:

South Georgia Bound
Oct. 6, 2012

Members of the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute are embarking on a quest to put together a puzzle whose pieces are disappearing before our very eyes.

We are heading to South Georgia Island, a windswept former whaling station in the icy reaches of the South Atlantic, to expose the true reasons behind the recent extreme variations in the Southern Hemisphere’s climate. Our goal is to uncover weather patterns from centuries ago by burrowing deep into South Georgia’s glaciers. The information hidden in the ice will allow scientists to paint a more accurate picture of how climate will change in the coming decades — and warn people how they must prepare.

We will sail more than 800 nautical miles over unpredictable seas to reach the island. We will examine the ice record to gain data on ancient weather patterns — the pieces to our climate puzzle.

It is either now or never: Rising global temperatures are causing South Georgia’s glaciers to melt, destroying the pieces that are necessary to complete the picture.

Our journey will involve days at sea, trekking on sheer ice, and camping out in subzero temperatures. We will encounter king penguins, elephant seals and right whales. We will retrace the steps of polar exploration giants such as Ernest Shackleton. And we will come in close contact with scientists who have devoted their lives to understanding climate in the most remote spots of the globe.

Today, October 6, we are waiting to depart from the Falkland Islands on a boat known as the Pelagic Australis. We invite you to follow our adventures on the ExpeNews site, which will be reported by text messages sent by an Iridium satellite phone. This means each entry will be short, incisive and audacious. Happy reading!

Contact: Jessica Bloch, (207) 581-3777


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UMaine News
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207.581.1110
A Member of the University of Maine System
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