State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Tag: Patagonia Climate Study

  • Some Thoughts about Glaciers Before Heading Home

    Mike and I head out today for Cerro Gorra, leaving Jay and Barbara at Lago Cardiel to finish the stratigraphy. What wonderful people; I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do field work with them. We drive to Lago Argentino, where Mike is meeting a new research team for a separate project.…

  • Learning to Be Observant

    Last night I made dinner. I’ve never cooked over an open fire—only on a tiny gas-powered stove on backpacking trips–but Jay and Barbara have been teaching me how. Dinner was edible. Jay built the fire last night, but tonight I’m hoping to do the whole thing start to finish. Wish me luck. We left Cerro…

  • Building the Best Story You Can

    Reconstructing a shoreline history takes skill. Today we’re using altimeters to establish the elevation of Lago Cardiel’s former shorelines. We also continue to look for shells to help us date the lake’s past shorelines, a task that requires strong powers of observation. In one short stretch there might be a dime-sized snail shell almost indistinguishable…

  • Searching for Snails

    Today we’re looking for live snails so that we can measure how much carbon-14 they are incorporating into their calcite shells. Carbon-14 is a rare isotope of carbon that decays radioactively–organisms incorporate carbon-14 into their tissues and shells while they are alive, and as soon as they die, the carbon-14 starts decaying away. We can…

  • When Lago Cardiel Was Larger

    The lake has grown and shrunk many times over the past 20,000 years. When it grows, it leaves behind a “bathtub ring” of residue around its edge: pebbles smoothed by wave action, carbonate tufas, the remnants of the things that lived at the shore. There are at least three distinct bathtub rings (each of which…

  • Geology Marches Forward

    For most of our drive, I stare out the window and ask Mike questions: “Is that a glacial moraine?” and “How tall were the Andes originally?” and “Why are those sediments white?” He can respond to a stunning number of these questions. I love being around field geologists; the way they make sense out of…

  • More Dust, Lago Potrok Aike

    Jay and Barbara took off this morning in a rugged-looking truck while Mike and I followed in a Honda CR-V that looks more appropriate for Route 9W than Patagonia’s gravel roads. We’re hopeful that nothing terrible will go wrong. Wish us luck! I was totally entranced by the geomorphology of this place: I must have…

  • Some Thoughts About Dust, Rio Gallegos

    I’ve been to Stewart Island, off the southern tip of New Zealand, but I’m pretty sure this is the furthest south I’ve been. Cool! We’re here in Rio Gallegos. We’ve just rendezvoused with Dr. Jay Quade, a geologist from the University of Arizona, and his wife Barbara. We’ve got two cars, a bunch of boxes…

  • Arrival: Buenos Aires

    We arrived in Argentina after a night in the air—maybe the first time I’ve ever gotten a (nearly) decent night’s sleep on a plane. We took a taxi across the city. It’s hot and flat, and our taxi driver explains that they’ve had torrential rains for several weeks; all the lowlands alongside the highway are…

Science for the Planet: In these short video explainers, discover how scientists and scholars across the Columbia Climate School are working to understand the effects of climate change and help solve the crisis.
  • Some Thoughts about Glaciers Before Heading Home

    Mike and I head out today for Cerro Gorra, leaving Jay and Barbara at Lago Cardiel to finish the stratigraphy. What wonderful people; I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do field work with them. We drive to Lago Argentino, where Mike is meeting a new research team for a separate project.…

  • Learning to Be Observant

    Last night I made dinner. I’ve never cooked over an open fire—only on a tiny gas-powered stove on backpacking trips–but Jay and Barbara have been teaching me how. Dinner was edible. Jay built the fire last night, but tonight I’m hoping to do the whole thing start to finish. Wish me luck. We left Cerro…

  • Building the Best Story You Can

    Reconstructing a shoreline history takes skill. Today we’re using altimeters to establish the elevation of Lago Cardiel’s former shorelines. We also continue to look for shells to help us date the lake’s past shorelines, a task that requires strong powers of observation. In one short stretch there might be a dime-sized snail shell almost indistinguishable…

  • Searching for Snails

    Today we’re looking for live snails so that we can measure how much carbon-14 they are incorporating into their calcite shells. Carbon-14 is a rare isotope of carbon that decays radioactively–organisms incorporate carbon-14 into their tissues and shells while they are alive, and as soon as they die, the carbon-14 starts decaying away. We can…

  • When Lago Cardiel Was Larger

    The lake has grown and shrunk many times over the past 20,000 years. When it grows, it leaves behind a “bathtub ring” of residue around its edge: pebbles smoothed by wave action, carbonate tufas, the remnants of the things that lived at the shore. There are at least three distinct bathtub rings (each of which…

  • Geology Marches Forward

    For most of our drive, I stare out the window and ask Mike questions: “Is that a glacial moraine?” and “How tall were the Andes originally?” and “Why are those sediments white?” He can respond to a stunning number of these questions. I love being around field geologists; the way they make sense out of…

  • More Dust, Lago Potrok Aike

    Jay and Barbara took off this morning in a rugged-looking truck while Mike and I followed in a Honda CR-V that looks more appropriate for Route 9W than Patagonia’s gravel roads. We’re hopeful that nothing terrible will go wrong. Wish us luck! I was totally entranced by the geomorphology of this place: I must have…

  • Some Thoughts About Dust, Rio Gallegos

    I’ve been to Stewart Island, off the southern tip of New Zealand, but I’m pretty sure this is the furthest south I’ve been. Cool! We’re here in Rio Gallegos. We’ve just rendezvoused with Dr. Jay Quade, a geologist from the University of Arizona, and his wife Barbara. We’ve got two cars, a bunch of boxes…

  • Arrival: Buenos Aires

    We arrived in Argentina after a night in the air—maybe the first time I’ve ever gotten a (nearly) decent night’s sleep on a plane. We took a taxi across the city. It’s hot and flat, and our taxi driver explains that they’ve had torrential rains for several weeks; all the lowlands alongside the highway are…