Hallo, eco-conscious viewers. On today’s Planet Earth: Our Loving Home we will present an interview with Dr. Veijo Pohjola, a glaciologist, climatologist and geologist from the Institute for Geoscience at the University of Uppsala, Sweden.
He is the project leader of the 2007-2008 International Polar Year initiative called Kinnvika, a study on climate change and its impact on the polar regions.
The International Polar Year is a collaboration of more than 50 scientists from over ten countries organized by the International Council for Science and the World Meteorological Organization.
They seek to better understand how our climate system works. This initiative focuses on the Arctic and the Antarctic as those regions have been experiencing the most rapid changes.
SUPREME MASTER TV:
We have here Veijo Pohjola, associate professor of glaciology at the Institute for Geoscience at Uppsala University in Sweden.
During the second summer of the International Polar Year, you will again lead a research expedition in the Arctic. Why the Arctic?
Yes, the Arctic is an area which is quite different from other areas that we humans live in.
That is one of the driving forces; the second is due to the reason that I am a climate scientist studying ice and snow. And there is abundant ice and snow at the poles in Antarctica which is located at the South Pole and at the Arctic Ocean, which is the Arctic, Arctic basin.
The reason why we, at the research institute called Kinnvika, are interested in studying the Arctic is because we humans are worried that we are contributing to something called the greenhouse effect meaning that the global temperatures are rising.
And the areas where changes will be the biggest are the areas that are the coldest today and have the biggest exchange of energy, where a lot of warm air from storms, from the air, but also from the ocean, which journeys with the sea currents like, for example, the Gulf Stream to Svalbard.
Svalbard is an area which has been studied during it 150 years of history, so there is a lot of background material.
SUPREME MASTER TV:
Can you tell us a little about the program, “Change and Variability of the Arctic System”?
“Change and Variability of the Arctic System” is where we can see changes and variability up in the Arctic.
We have invited not only glaciologists, but we have also invited all types of scientists who study everything from rocks, geologists, to biologists who look at life and how it changes up there and we have even invited science historians and actually also had discussions with scientists who look at how buildings are changing in the Arctic province.
There have been dramatic changes in the sea ice in the Arctic oceans, the oceans themselves, which are situated over or around the North Pole.
There have been bigger changes than we could have imagined and we have associated them with humans’ release of greenhouse gases.
We have done modelling of this a few years ago, and have seen that every time it’s going faster than we have predicted.
And this makes us seriously worried for what will happen. If we make a practically linear interpolation we can see exponential decreasing of the sea ice surface. And if we make a simple approximation, then maybe we can draw the conclusions that it was not last for many more years to come.
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Welcome back to Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. Our program today features Dr. Veijo Pohjola, associate professor of glaciology at the Institute for Geoscience at the University of Uppsala, Sweden and his explanation on the effects of climate change in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
We, scientists, are working on it to try to examine how great a part of the variations are natural and how much are humans contributing to the course of the event.
It is a process which takes a very long time. Climate, it is about 30 years in weather history. And maybe we need 100 years of data, maybe 150 years of data in order to draw a conclusion and we don’t have that much time if we think that we affect climate in that way.
And that means that we are forced to think of another way of living, I think, especially here in the Western world. We have to reduce our consumption to make it suit the Earth’s needs.
SUPREME MASTER TV:
Exactly. If the ice is melting to record low levels, can it be recovered the year after? Can we see such patterns?
Yes, this year it has been that way. Nobody really knows but it doesn’t seem that it will be the same increase of melting like it was last year.
For example, I am planning an expedition to Svalbard right now and in the latest years there hasn’t been any problem to go with a boat in June and come there because the ice was thin there or did not exist.
But this year we couldn’t come in. It seems like there is too much ice up there. Likewise was the ice in Greenland, East Greenland.
It was much ice so even the polar bears have come to Iceland and they don’t have any polar bears there naturally.
SUPREME MASTER TV:
Can one still see the shrinking ice cover as evidence that humans’ environmental impact is gradually changing the Earth’s climate?
Yes, that conclusion could be made because we see that there is a pretty fast retiring of the sea ice up in the Arctic.
As a geologist, I have seen that things have changed very fast back in time and also before humans even existed. And when one looks into the ice samples from Greenland then one can see that the difference between Ice Age and non-Ice Age was only about ten years.
So natural changes has been as fast as lightning and therefore I don’t want to say that the changes we see today with sea ice are unique.
It could happen exactly the same before, but now it’s more than before, when there wasn’t many billions of people on the Earth.
We didn’t have advanced society and the animals that existed then maybe could adapt to great changes during short periods, at least some species and others adapted or moved.
But five to six billion people cannot move, our cities cannot move. That is the complexity of our problems.
SUPREME MASTER TV:
Right now, the three Scandinavian orders of succession to the throne are onboard the icebreaker Oden in the Arctic.
What importance does it have that the three royal palaces: Sweden, Norway and Denmark participate in your work, so to speak?
It has, of course, a big symbolic importance. The royal palaces are not politicians. A politician would have done it, you can say, in order to become elected again. The royal palaces don’t need to care about that.
They don’t need to be elected. They are born into it, you can put it that way. As a small country one cannot cope with it by oneself and I think it’s praiseworthy.
We also have a very high Nordic collaboration. There are quite a number of Finnish, we have some Norwegian and some Danish involved in our research.
So I think that is very good. The other symbolic sense of it all is that the royal palaces are showing that this is a priority, that climate research and polar research is important. It sends a signal to business communities, to people that want to donate money to the research.
I can in conclusion say that in regards to climate research, it is no longer an academic question.
You could see how the business communities could integrate with the research world.
Dr. Pohjola, our deep appreciation for sharing your knowledge on the urgent situation our planet faces. We pray that governments and individuals across the globe act swiftly to protect and preserve the many lives on our planet.