Stefan Kröpelin and 45 years of exploration and science in the eastern Sahara

Interesting stories and insights on life come tumbling out of Stefan Kröpelin — one of the foremost scientists working in the eastern Sahara — like snowflakes in a blizzard. Science is at the forefront of our conversation, but his worldview is literary: “It was never my intention to make, out of 100 books, the 101st.” Always, Stefan looks for the empty space and fresh opportunity, on the map and in science.

Stefan Kropelin at Lake Bokou, Chad. Credit: Stefan Kropelin.
Stefan at Lake Bokou — part of the Lakes of Ounianga UNESCO World Heritage Site, northern Chad. Credit: Stefan Kröpelin.

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Lauren Andrews on glacial hydrology and field work in Greenland

Lauren Andrews has done some of the most interesting work I’ve seen on subglacial hydrology — as a grad student, and with a degree of independence that would be unusual in most any PhD.

Credit: Joseph MacGregor
Credit: Joseph MacGregor

Lauren grew up in a scientific/agricultural household: her father was a groundwater hydrologist but the family also ran a small farm, with a range of animals. Lauren was active in 4-H, an organization that promotes (among other things) individual responsibility and organization, skills that came into play during Lauren’s time on the Greenland Ice Sheet.

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Gavin Schmidt on the evolution, testing and discussion of climate models

gavin schmidt nasa giss
Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Gavin Schmidt runs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and develops, pokes, prods, tears down, builds up, and talks about talking about climate models. He also considered opening a child care center at GISS, but thought better of it. Continue reading →

Bette Otto-Bliesner and modeling past climates (most of them!)

Credit: UCAR, used by permission.

Bette Otto-Bliesner from the National Center for Atmospheric Research has shaped the field of paleoclimate modeling for decades and I’d been keen to talk with her ever since I started the podcast.

My process for inviting people to be on the podcast isn’t totally random. Usually I find the person’s work to be particularly compelling,  we might be in the same location, or I’m trying to find a good balance of tropics. Continue reading →

Greg Jones on inventing the field of wine-climate interactions

Greg Jones is one of the foremost authorities on wine – climate interactions. I started hearing about  Greg some time in the late 1990s, when Rama Nemani, one of my friends from the University of Montana, went out to NASA Ames for a year. Rama got interested in remote sensing of vineyards and then climate-wine interactions. Somehow we all started talking, and a few years later this led to a paper in Climate Research. Greg and I continued to work together off and on for years, including a feature in Nature Geoscience soon after I started at Nature. Continue reading →

Restaurant recommendations for AGU 2015

I tweeted a bunch of restaurant recommendations for #AGU14. It seemed worthwhile to collect them all in one location. Here they are, with some additions/removals and brief comments. One big change since 2014 is that prices are up. A lot. In some cases by 40% or so. You can expect to pay $14 for a fancy sandwich and in some places $15 for a cocktail. Ugh. Good luck. Happy to take suggestions/requests.

High end Greek:
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Surabi Menon on aerosols and working in a climate foundation

If you’re a frequent reader of Nature’s Career section, you’ll have seen a lot of content on various aspects of non-traditional scientific careers (for example, conversations with Nobel Laureate Eric Betzig, a Q&A on transitioning from academia to industry, an editorial on life after academia, and a feature on why top academic prospects might pursue other opportunities). Continue reading →

Robin Bell and the physics of glaciology

Running a small business

Robin Bell and her colleagues found a volcano under the Antarctic Ice Sheet and water freezing onto the bottom of kms-thick ice. She championed the idea that glaciology needed instrumentation capable of observing the full ice sheet — from surface to base — all at the same time. To this end, she bolted ship-based gear on a small plane and … tried it out. And it worked! And continues to work, all in support of the massive question of trying to figure out how the ice sheets will behave in warming world, and what sea levels will be in the coming decades to centuries.

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Bjorn Stevens on the philosophy of climate modeling

In love with Maxwell

Bjorn Stevens has a lot going on: scientific member of the Max Planck Society, director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, head of the department Atmosphere and the Earth System, professor at the University of Hamburg, lead author of an IPCC AR 5 Chapter 7, co-lead of a WCRP Grand Challenge on Clouds, Circulation and Climate Sensitivity. All of these roles don’t come as much of a surprise, once you get your head around the degree to which Bjorn manages to combine a deep scientific enthusiasm with big vision, an in-the-trenches grasp of details, a willingness to take risks, and an inspirational leadership style.

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