2016 Audio - Gold


From a desolate volcanic landscape in the highlands of Iceland to the edge of the world’s second largest ice sheet in Greenland, reporter Ari Daniel and environment editor Peter Thomson of PRI’s “The World” took listeners to the frontiers of field research on current and potential effects of climate change. “Ari Daniel brought listeners along on an exciting and fascinating ride to explore melting glaciers in Greenland and Iceland,” said Rich Monastersky, features editor in the Washington office of the journal Nature. “The vivid pieces put us right there with the scientists as they investigated the impacts of climate change.” Daniel described efforts, using a new high-definition laser, to better monitor changes in the thickness of the Helheim glacier in Greenland and track how individual parts of the glacier are changing speed. He joined oceanographers on a research vessel in Sermilik fjord, where huge icebergs that have broken away from the glacier are displacing ocean water and causing sea levels to rise. Using temperature probes, scientists have learned that water at the bottom of the fjord – 2000 feet down – is 39 degrees Fahrenheit, warm enough to melt glacial ice. They’ve been probing the waters for concentrations of noble gases that can distinguish melted snow and ice from the top of the glacier and melted ice from the bottom of the glacier, deep underwater. Knowing the subtle signatures of different types of water can help scientists determine how the ocean, the glacier and the air are interacting in a warming environment. In Iceland, Daniel told listeners, retreating glaciers could eventually trigger impacts that are far from subtle ─ more active volcanoes. Land depressed by the huge weight of now retreating ice sheets is rising about an inch a year in the Icelandic Highlands, generating additional molten magma in a nearby volcanic hotspot. “I was fortunate to witness the melting edges of our changing planet through the discerning and admiring eyes of those who devote their lives to these frosty landscapes,” Ari Daniel said. “Peter and I are honored to have received the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award for the stories about these brave scientists working in such remarkable locations.” Daniel's reporting trip was funded with a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.