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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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!)

Bette-Otto-Bliesner
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 →

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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Kim Cobb on El Nino, geochemistry and women in science

Obsessed by El Niño

Corals and speleothems are some of our most useful recorders of past climate variability. The spectacular speleothem records from eastern China, for example, have been instrumental in building our understanding of past variations in the East Asian Monsoon. But as is the case for most any paleoclimate proxy, corals and speleothems do not record a direct record of … well, anything.

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Martin Siegert on Antarctic glaciology

The highs and lows of Antarctic science

For my first interview, I met with Martin Siegert, who I’ve known for a few years from meetings and a visit to the University of Edinburgh. Martin is the co-director of the Grantham Institute, a well-known climate institute based at Imperial College London, with a goal to, at least in part, bring climate science into a broader societal discussion.

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