CR
Cryospheric Sciences

Interview

An interview with… Marie Dumont

Snow! Here, Marie is spreading mineral dust on natural snow to investigate how this will change snow evolution (Col du Lautaret, France) [Credit : Maxim Lamare]

This week, we are interviewing Dr Marie Dumont. At the European Geosciences Union (EGU) general assembly in 2019, Marie was awarded the Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientist. Marie is currently a research team leader and deputy scientific director for the Snow Research Centre (part of Centre National de Recherches Meteorologiques, Météo-France & Le Centre national de la Recherche Scientifique [CNRS]) in France. Here, we ask her questions to find out a little more about the snow scientist. 


Let’s start off with an easy question: what is it that you work on? 

My researches are about the optical properties of snow, aka as the color of snow for the visible wavelengths. The “color” of snow is both cause and an effect of the snow cover evolution, it controls a large part of the melt rate and triggers potent climate feedbacks. I am working on how to measure and model the optical properties of snow at differences length scales and how to use this knowledge to better predict the evolution of the snow cover, in the past, now and in the future.

Did you always know you wanted to be a scientist?

Tricky question! Maybe, I knew deep down inside of me. It popped up quite naturally in my career. I hesitated for a while between mountain sports and science, and for some reason (maybe education, maybe something else) I ended up with one being my job and the other being my hobby, so I am quite lucky!

What is it about snow that has inspired you (and prompted four uses of ‘snow’ in your twitter handle)?

Snow snow snow …
Snow is beauty and fairy-like, snow is complex and simple at the same time. To me, it makes everything look great and perfect. As far as I remember, I have always been fascinated by snow. It calms me down and makes me feel incredibly good and peaceful. Maybe, it has also something to do with the fact that snow is ephemeral and somehow bound to melt and disappear and also that it’s changing/evolving continuously, it’s never the same, never boring.

Jon Snow or actual snow?

Jon Snow cause “I know nuthin’”
Jon Snow, except in season 8 …**spoiler alert**.
Kidding … both. I was really happy to see that a worldwide success like Game of Thrones was using snow and winter as part of the (scary) story.  In Game of Thrones, everyone is worrying that the world would end with winter coming. In reality, it was more the contrary. Naively, it made me happy to live in the fiction whilst winter was coming: it somehow distracted me from my sad thoughts on climate change and snow disappearance.

What worries you more: giving an award lecture at EGU, or panicking that you’ve left your tap running once you’ve left for fieldwork?

Giving an award lecture at EGU and knowing that I left the tap running when I left home for the conference… just kidding…. I think I am at bit of a scatterbrain, so I am quite used to leaving home with the tap running, losing my keys, my visa card and my passport. I don’t worry too much about that kind of thing anymore, it’s part of me and I am used to it.
On the contrary, I am not used to giving award lectures at all, so it worried me a lot, really a lot! I thought about it for quite a long time before EGU this year and the thing that worries me the most besides being in the limelight is the fact that I could possibly disappoint people that pushed me to get there and thus put their trust in me.

Marie received her award at the EGU2019 General Assembly in April 2019 [Credit: Olaf Eisen].

You’ve been very successful in both grant funding and winning awards, but what about times of less success? Do you have advice for any Early Career Scientists who’ve recently been rejected?

Usually only success is publicly reported. As anyone, I had, have and will have time of less success: rejected papers, rejected proposals, bad meetings, fully unsuccessful ideas, errors and conflicts with colleagues. I think I learnt, at least equally if not more, from errors and rejection than from success.
Advice? I’m not sure I am the right person to be giving any. This is a bit cliché but: keep trying, be passionate, be open to others, listen to them, listen to their comments and even when they are criticisms.

What do you crave/miss most when in remote locations?

My kids, friends and family, and after a few weeks a hot shower.

Do your kids have an interest in following in your footsteps (Marie is a mother of twins)?

Don’t know 😉 they are five years old! I brought them to one of my favourite field sites when they were two and taught them how to do a snow pit profile. For a while, they thought my job was about tasting snow J I am not really interested in the fact that they follow my footsteps or not. I just want, if I am able to do it, to show them how nature, wild places, and snow are beautiful and I think (ask me again in 10 years) that I would be happy if they are able to find their own passion about something and live it.

They could be the youngest early career scientists in the field of snow research! Do you think science has made advances in supporting women and parents in science? Are there still more things we can work on?

I am always a bit “torn” by this kind of question. On one hand, I think there has been a lot of advances in supporting parents and women in science, and I benefited from that a really a lot and it’s great!
On the other hand, in the push to promote male/female equality, I am always a bit puzzled by the emphasis that is put on supporting women only. There is something contradictory in this.
I think maybe it would make sense not to underline the differences too much. Getting funding, awards, sitting on committees is not all about quota, it should be mainly about skills. I am not at all saying that women, parents and other minorities should not be encouraged and offered new possibilities, as this is happening and is really great. However, there is a weight from history (more men than women in some science topics) that can’t disappear immediately and to some extent, I think pushing women only for quotas is harming the gender equality. Some women (I am part of them) may think they are successful only because of a quota. For example, I have encountered this argument:
XX : “Can you be part of this committee? Can you chair this or that?”
Me : “Why are you asking me ?”
XX: “Because you are a woman …”
Situations like this are frequent and in fact, it can make me quite angry.

You regularly participate and organise summer schools. Do you enjoy teaching? Do you have any advice for someone who might want to start teaching?

Not summer schools, winter schools of course!
I enjoy teaching but it’s also not a large part of my working time and I don’t have a huge experience in teaching. I enjoy teaching because I like sharing with students, learning about them, about their opinion … Advice? Same as above: listen to the students: as kids they teach you as much as you teach them, try to be funny and convincing!

As you spend lots of time in cold places for your work, do you prefer hot/beach holidays or do you still holiday in colder places?

Before having kids, it was really only about cold/mountain places. Now that I am getting older, I do also appreciate hot/beach holidays as long as I can climb or do some sports and that the places are wild and beautiful.

Day to day, what does being a scientist look like?

Coffee, taking kids to school, cycling to work, meetings (I need another coffee), emails, reviews, proposal writing, abstract writing (promising work that I know I will never be able to do before the conference), debugging some programs, discussing ideas with colleagues and students, ticking 2 things on my to-do list and adding 7 new items, trying to fit in two hours of pure science, asking for deadline extensions, meetings again, cycling back home… something like that.

She might look happy but digging snow pits is hard work! Snow pits are often dug to allow scientists to look at the change in snow properties with depth (Col du Lautaret, France) [Credit: François Tuzet].

That sounds busy! And on really cool, awesome-science days, what does being a scientist look like?

Top 10 awesome-science days/moments (with no preference):

  • Field days (even the unsuccessful days and during bad weather)
  • Sharing ideas and debating with colleagues/students when the understanding is beyond words
  • Passionate science/equation discussions in weird places (carparks, planes, trains, …)
  • Exciting new lab measurements that we still don’t know what they are useful for
  • Friday beers when the discussion oscillates between what happened during the past week and what the plans for the weekend are
  • Making at least one person laugh or smile in a conference talk with a nerdy joke
  • Finally getting the figure that demonstrates the hypothesis we were convinced about for a while and realizing a few hours after that there was a bug in the plot routine.
  • Finally finding the bug I was looking for after two weeks
  • Working as a team
  • Making nice figures with nice colours

Fieldwork is a regular part of Marie’s scientific career. Here she is doing spectral albedo measurements with her PhD student, François Tuzet in Col du Lautaret, France. This instrument was developped by Laurent Arnaud and Ghislain Picard (IGE, Grenoble, France) [Credit: Mark Flanner].

We always love a nerdy science joke! What might be the next big break-through in your field? (E.g higher resolution satellite data or a new model or method of observing etc).

The next paper from my student 😉 kidding of course!
I think it’s a combination of the 3 points you mentioned.  On one hand, temporal and spatial resolution of satellite data are getting better and better. For instance, the Sentinel satellites provide us unprecedented means to monitor the state of the snow cover. On the other hand, new observing methods (such as new instruments enabling observations of the snow properties at the microns/millimiters scales) provide new insights on snow evolution (in the lab and in the field) and snow physics that could be implemented in new snow models. So my vision, probably quite biased by what I currently plan to develop, is that a big break-through in snow science can probably be reached by developing modelling-assimilation systems that combine the most advanced knowledge of snow physics and the wealth of high resolution satellite data.

Model, satellite data or in-situ observations, you can only do one for the rest of time… which one?

Sorry, I can’t choose!

Ooo, we will let you off then. Afterall, science is about using the best techniques and data available. Thank you so much for chatting with us Marie!

Interviewed and edited by Jenny Turton


Dr Marie Dumont is a snow scientist at the Snow Research Centre in the Centre National de Recherches Meteorologiques (Météo-France & CNRS). This unit is also associated to the  Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Grenoble – OSUG and  to Univ. Grenoble Alpes in France. Her research focuses on remote sensing and observations of optical snow properties, and uses a range of methods including data assimilation of observations into models and laboratory work. She tweets from @mpneige.

 

 

 

An interview with Jenny Turton, early-career representative for the cryo-division of the EGU

The European Geophysical Union (EGU) has a number of scientific divisions or themes, such as cryosphere, atmospheric sciences and geodesy. Each division has a representative for early career scientists, and often a team of scientists who write and edit blogs and organise events. Today,  Jenny Turton, the new representative for the cryo-division, explains a bit more about the role and what she hopes to achieve.


JT: Hi! I’m Jenny Turton, the new EGU CR ECS rep.

This is me! [Credit: Jenny Turton]

That’s a lot of acronyms, help us out?

JT: It is quite a mouthful. I am the representative for Early Career Scientists (ECS) in the cryosphere (CR) division for the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Am I an ECS? Are you my rep?

JT: EGU says that an early career scientist is anyone who has finished their highest degree within the last 7 years (or 8 if you’ve had time away for childcare or healthcare). Although I am interested in promoting early career scientists across all physical science disciplines, I am the representative for anyone in the cryospheric sciences. That includes anyone studying/researching ice, snow, cold climates, polar regions, high-mountain glaciers, sea ice, permafrost, atmosphere-ice interactions, ice sheets… and I’m sure I have forgotten some. 56% of the cryosphere community who have an EGU membership are early career scientists!

So what will you do in your new role?

JT: I will be the point of contact between any early career scientists and EGU. I will put forward suggestions from the cryosphere community to the EGU council, on how EGU can better represent and support early career scientists. This includes at the general assembly in Vienna (mostly just known as EGU), but also in EGU journals and other events. More specifically, I have two main avenues I would like to work on during my time. Want to know more?

Yes please!

JT: Firstly, I want to support and develop the early career scientist community in terms of diversity. This includes gender, ethnicity and LGBTQ+ rights. Just 35% of the EGU members are women, and this increases to 42% for early career scientist community. Whilst the EGU cryosphere hasn’t yet analysed their breakdown in terms of gender, just 33% of the American Geosciences Union cryosphere members (our American sister) are women. The number of women in STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is increasing, but I want to do more to represent the women we already have in science, and to try and increase the numbers. When organising panel talks, or inviting guest speakers, please think about how you can ensure a more diverse range of backgrounds and routes into science. Read our past blog dedicated to women in science.

We do not have numbers of scientists who categorise themselves as LGBTQ+, however at the general assembly in Vienna in 2019, EGU held their first ‘pride’ event, which was well attended. In this event we discussed what challenges scientists have faced on their career path so far, and how ‘allies’ (people who do not categorise themselves as LGBTQ+ but want to be supporters of those who do) can assist and support in making EGU and science a more diverse place. I will be supporting the organisers of this event again for next year’s General Assembly.

That sounds like a good idea! I follow ‘Polar Pride’ (@PridePolar) on twitter. What’s your second focus point?

The ECS reps and cryo team organise short courses at the general assembly which are well attended and are aimed at the ECS community. Topics include: how to find funding (the picture here), a polar career panel (jointly run with APECS) and presenting tips. [Credit: Jenny Turton]

JT: My second focus is on making strong links between the other EGU early career scientist reps. I have a small confession… I am not wholly within the cryosphere division, I am actually a mixture of cryosphere, atmospheric sciences and climate. There are many scientists (especially scientists who move between topics after their PhDs) whose research does not fall into one category. I research the interactions between the atmosphere and the cryosphere for the 79°N glacier in Northeast Greenland (see this previous blog post). More specifically I have looked at whether there is evidence of climate change in this region (big hint: there is) and run an atmospheric model to investigate the processes that are having an impact on the ice. I know I am not the only person who spans multiple research divisions, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel left out, or as if you’re in no-man’s land. During my time as a rep, I aim to work closely with other reps to create bridges between them. This will include joint social activities and organised short-courses that are of interest to many groups.

You’re going to be a busy bee (or a busy polar bear maybe?). Do you do this alone?

No! Absolutely not. The EGU cryo team includes many people. We have a number of chief editors, many regular editors and authors for our weekly blogs. We have a social media team, who focus on spreading important information and highlighting our blog posts. We also rely on a number of members who help organise and convene the short courses at EGU and organise our other events. We are always looking for new members for our growing team. Get in touch for information on joining us!

How do we know you will get this done? Do you have any experience of this sort of role?

The Networking and Early Career Scientist Zone is a new feature at the EGU general assembly, and is a space for early career scientists to meet their reps, hang out, work in a quiet spot and grab a coffee. There is also an info board with all of the social and off-programme events taking place. [Credit: Jenny Turton]

JT: Actually, yes! I have always been active in outreach, organisation and extra-academia activities throughout my PhD and postdoc. I was the head of education and outreach for the UK Polar Network (the UK Branch of the Association for Polar Early Career Scientists) and have organised student conferences with the Royal Meteorological Society. I’m also pretty organised, and a big fan of to-do lists which keep me on track. I think I am quite well placed to ensure that as many scientists voices with the cryosphere are heard. I completed my PhD in 2017 with the British Antarctic Survey (there’s a lot of cryo scientists there you know) and the University of Leeds. I also keep in contact with the University of Lancaster, where I did my masters and undergraduate degrees. Now, I am based in Erlangen, with two growing teams of scientists with cryosphere interests, and my research is part of a larger German-based project with many cryo-scientists. I’m also an active tweeter (@TurtonJ1990) which means I can often reach out to other early career scientists on the twittersphere.

How can we get in touch with you and how will you give us information?

JT: The best way to contact me is through the EGU cryosphere email (ecs-cr@egu.eu), or on twitter (@TurtonJ1990 or @EGU_CR). During the next EGU general assembly (#EGU20), I will often be in the Networking and ECS lounge, or floating between cryosphere sessions (unless its 6pm, then I’ll be near the beer stand!). The cryo twitter account will inform you of social events and relevant dates for EGU, our blog will keep you informed more informally, and there are the EGU ECS newsletters.

Right, thanks for the info. I’d better get on to publishing this blog.

JT: And I need to do some research. Feel free to get in touch!

Edited by Sophie Berger

Image of the Week — Cryo Connect: connecting cryosphere scientists and information seekers

Image of the Week — Cryo Connect: connecting cryosphere scientists and information seekers

Communicating scientific findings toward non-experts is a vital part of cryosphere science. However, when it comes to climate change and its impact, the gap between scientific knowledge and human action has never been so evident (see for instance, the publication of the latest IPCC special report). Today, our image of the week features an interview with Cryo Connect, a new initiative for more efficient flow of information between cryosphere scientists and information seekers.


Why have you decided to come up with an initiative like Cryo Connect?

Currently, information seekers such as journalists, policy makers, teachers and stakeholders often resort to internet search engines to find experts for answering specific questions about the cryosphere. Or they return to the same expert they have interacted with in the past. Either way, it is unlikely that they end up receiving information from the expert that knows most about the topic, or even in the preferred language. Some organizations have their own science outreach portals, but a truly global and inclusive network of cryosphere experts willing to provide insights to those seeking information has been lacking. For this reason, we established Cryo Connect.

Number of Cryo Connect experts for each cryospheric component. [Credit: Cryo connect]

How does it work exactly?

Cryo Connect is run as a non-profit organization. We are an official EGU Cryospheric Sciences partner and provide a free, online gateway through which experts and information seekers can reach out. Here, not only can information seekers find answers, but scientists can also actively promote their latest findings, pushing press releases (screened but unmodified by Cryo Connect) towards information seekers. All cryosphere scientists globally can sign up as experts allowing them to boost their visibility (especially with respect to those ranking high on internet search engines), irrespective of their career stage, ethnicity, gender or the languages that they master.

Number of Cryo Connect experts for each cryosphere region. [Credit: Cryo connect]

How has Cryo Connect been doing so far?
Although still in our first year, by October 2018 Cryo Connect has already grown to a community of 98 experts based in 22 countries across the planet. Together, they can provide information on all components of all cryospheric regions in the world – in 19 different languages! Researchers make up about two-fifths of the expert database, while PhD students, senior researchers and professors each constitute a ⅕ part. Lots of knowledge to go around.

Career stage of Cryo Connect experts. [Credit: Cryo connect]

What’s the take-home message for scientists?

That all cryosphere scientists around the globe are invited to sign up as a Cryo Connect expert to increase their visibility to the media and other information seekers. The platform works best, and attracts more information seekers with an even larger expert population from all corners of the planet. And don’t forget to tweet about your latest peer-reviewed publication using the @CryoConnect Twitter handle for increased media exposure!

Edited by Sophie Berger


Cryo-connect is an initiative run by Dirk van As, Faezeh Nick, William Colgan and Inka Koch

Mapping the bottom of the world — an Interview with Brad Herried, Antarctic Cartographer

Mapping the bottom of the world — an Interview with Brad Herried, Antarctic Cartographer

Mapping Earth’s most remote continent presents a number of unique challenges. Antarctic cartographers and scientists are using some of the most advanced mapping technologies available to get a clearer picture of the continent. We asked Brad Herried, a Cartographer and Web Developer at the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota, a few questions about what it’s like to do this unique job both on and off the ice.


Before we go too much further… what is the Polar Geospatial Center, and what does it do for polar science and scientists?

The Polar Geospatial Center (PGC), founded in 2007 by Director Paul Morin, is a research group of about 20 staff and students at the University of Minnesota with a simple mission: solve geospatial problems at the poles (Antarctica and the Arctic). Because we are funded (primarily) through the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA Cryospheric Sciences, that is the community we support – other U.S.-funded polar researchers. We provide custom maps, high-resolution commercial satellite imagery, and Geographic Information System (GIS) support for researchers who would like to use the data for their research but may not have the expertise to do so.

Our primary service is providing high-resolution satellite imagery (i.e. from the DigitalGlobe, Inc. constellation) to U.S.-funded polar researchers – at no additional cost to their grants – through licensing agreements with the U.S. Government. It has proven beneficial to researchers to have a service so that we do the hard parts of data management, remote sensing, and automation of satellite imagery processing so that they don’t have to. So, a glaciologist or geomorphologist or wildlife ecologist studying at the poles may come to us and say: I would like to use satellite imagery to study phenomenon x or y. Some groups use it just for logistics (these are some of the least mapped places on Earth after all) to get to their site. Some groups’ entire research is done using remote sensing.

What kinds of data and resources do you use?

The PGC’s polar archive of high-resolution commercial imagery is absolutely astounding (like, in the thousands of terabytes). The imagery, although licensed to us by U.S. Government contracts, is collected by the DigitalGlobe, Inc. constellation of satellites (e.g. WorldView-2), much like the imagery where you can see your house/car in Google Earth. The benefit is that we can provide it at no cost to our users (researchers). That resource, along with the expertise of the staff at PGC, can provide solutions to users, whether it’s making a simple map of a remote research site or providing a time-series of satellite imagery for a researcher studying change detection (like, say for a glacier front in Greenland).

This also presents a challenge. How do we manage and effectively deliver that much data? We have relied on skilled staff, ingenuity, cheap storage, high-performance computing, and automation to become successful.

As the saying goes, automate or die.

What’s your role at the PGC? How did you find your way into a job like this?

I started at the PGC as a graduate student in 2008. I knew nothing about Antarctica or the Arctic, but my background and studies in GIS & cartography offered a wide range of jobs. After I graduated, I became a full-time employee as the lead cartographer of the (at the time, very small) group. Currently, I do a lot more GIS web application development and geospatial data management. We have recognized the need for more automated, “self-service” systems for our users to get the data they need in a timely manner, and less of asking a PGC employee for a custom product. As the saying goes, automate or die. But, of course, I still spend a fair bit of my times creating maps to keep my cartographic juices going.

Antarctica and the South Polar Regions. Map from the American explorer Richard Byrd’s second expedition in 1933. [Credit: Byrd Antarctic Expeditions]

What kind of work do PGC employees do in Antarctica?

The PGC staffs an office at the United States’ McMurdo Station annually from October to February, with 3-5 staff rotating throughout the field season. It is really an extension of our responsibilities, with a couple interesting twists, both good and bad. First, a majority of our users (NSF-funded researchers) come through McMurdo Station in preparation for their fieldwork. It’s a beneficial and unique experience to meet with them one-on-one and solve problems, ironically, faster than email exchanges back in the States. Second – and this is true of all of Antarctica – the internet bandwidth is very limited. So, we have to a) prepare more regarding what data/imagery we have on site and b) do more with less. That always proves to be a fun challenge because it is impossible to access our entire archive of imagery from down there.

How could I forget collecting Google Street View in Antarctica.

There have been several years, however, when we do get to go out into the field! In past years, we have conducted various field campaigns in the nearby McMurdo Dry Valleys to collect survey ground control to make our satellite imagery more accurate. And, how could I forget collecting Google Street View (with some custom builds of the typical car-camera system for snowmobiles, heavy-duty trucks, and backpacks). The Google Street View provides a window into the world of Antarctica – history, facilities, science, and of course its beautiful landscapes – to a wide audience who only dream of visiting Antarctica.

Brad on a snowmobile collecting Google Street View imagery [Credit: Brad Herried]

What are some of the interesting projects PGC has worked on? What’s exciting at PGC right now?

The PGC does a lot to contribute to polar mapping. There’s not exactly a ton of geospatial data or maps for the polar regions, especially Antarctica. What data or maps there are, it is not often of very high quality. For example, there are regions of Antarctica (especially in inland East Antarctica) which have not been properly mapped or surveyed since the 1960s. Those maps offer little help if you’re trying to land an aircraft in the area. So, PGC has done a lot to improve that geospatial data including creating more accurate coastlines, improving geographic coordinates of named features (sometimes the location can be off by 10s of kilometers!), organizing historic aerial photography, and digitizing map collections. These are important to have, but it all changes when you can collect data 100 times more accurate with satellites…

There’s not exactly a ton of geospatial data or maps for the polar regions, especially Antarctica.

Where it gets really interesting is how we can apply our archive of satellite imagery to help researchers solve problems or come up with cutting-edge solutions with the data. One example is the ArcticDEM project. In a private-public collaboration, PGC is using high performance computing (HPC) to develop a pan-Arctic Digital Elevation Model (DEM) at a resolution 10 times better than what exists now. This project requires hundreds of thousands of stereoscopic satellite imagery pairs to be processed using photogrammetry techniques to build a three-dimensional model of the surface for the entire Arctic. There are countless more applications for the imagery and we’ll continue to push the limits of the technology to produce innovative products to help measure the Earth and solve really important research questions.

ArcticDEM hillshade in East Greenland. DEM(s) created by the Polar Geospatial Center from DigitalGlobe, Inc. imagery. [Credit: Brad Herried/ Polar Geospatial Center].

 

What resources can cryosphere researchers and other polar scientists without US funding get from PGC to enhance their research?

Our website provides a wealth of non-licensed data, freely available to download. That includes our polar map catalog (with over 2,000 historic maps of the polar regions), aerial photography, and elevation data. The ArcticDEM project I mentioned before is freely available (see https://www.pgc.umn.edu/data/arcticdem/), as are all DEMs created (derived) from the optical imagery. Moreover, we work with the international community on a regular basis to continue mapping efforts across both poles.

 

What advice do you have for students interested in a career in science or geospatial science?

This might be a little bit of a tangent, but learn to code. I was trained in cartography ten years ago and we hardly touched the command line. Now? You certainly don’t have to be an expert, say, Python programmer, but you’re behind if you don’t know how to automate some of your tasks, data processing, analysis, or other routine workflows. It allows you to focus on the things you’re actually an expert in (and, employers are most certainly looking for these skills).

ArcticDEM hillshade of Columbia Glacier, Alaska. DEM(s) created by the Polar Geospatial Center from DigitalGlobe, Inc. imagery. [Credit: Brad Herried/ Polar Geospatial Center].

Personally, what has been the highlight of your time at PGC so far?

I will never forget the first time I stepped off the plane landing in Antarctica as a graduate student. A surreal, breathtaking (literally), and completely foreign feeling. To be able to experience the most remote places on Earth first-hand naturally leads to a better understanding of them. So, the highlight for me is this: I find myself asking more questions, talking to the preeminent researchers and students about their work, and discovering the purpose of it all. I may be a small piece in the puzzle of understanding our Earth’s poles, but I’m humbled to be a part.

Interview and Editing by George Roth, Additional Editing by Sophie Berger