Episode 4

This is Paleoclimatology                        Show Notes

Guest: Sarah Aarons

Email: smaarons@uchicago.edu

Clarification from the Episode:

Sarah mentioned Owen's Lake was drained in the 1950s, but it was drained in 1916.

Book Recommendation:

"Two Mile Time Machine" by Richard Alley, a professor at Penn State is a great and accessible introduction into how climate is preserved in the ice core record, and what we may expect in the future with climate change.

IPCC report: A good read if you are interested in what is the current consensus on climate change from the point of view of a scientific and intergovernmental panel on climate change, a great summary of scientific studies on climate change, and it provides some constraints into how likely certain scenarios are, such as increases in sea level, extreme events, etc.

Sarah's Recommended Habit Change: Reduce Use of Single Use Plastic

One thing that I try to do in my everyday life is reduce the amount of waste that I’m producing. This is the zero waste idea, which basically aims to reuse all products and eliminate the material sent to landfills or incinerators. In my everyday life I use reusable coffee cups, I pack my lunch in reusable containers rather than using plastic, and when I’m at the grocery store I try to be mindful of the packaging that my items are in. For example its way less wasteful to buy one large container of yogurt versus 10 small containers of yogurt. Sure, those small containers can be recycled but then think about the amount of energy that’s required to transport those plastic cups to a recycling plant.

Sources & Additional Reading


Episode Overview by Segments:

Minute 0:00: Erin and Allyson intro

Minute 1:30: Sarah Aarons introduction + background.

Minute 3:30: Sarah’s average work day. No hitting snooze + a morning jog to clear her head.

Minute 6:00: What is paleoclimatology?

Minute 7:45: Ice cores from Antarctica. How do you get to Antartica to drill ice cores and what does the day-to-day look like when you’re collecting data? What is the ‘point of no return’?

Minute 13:00: Sarah’s field research + training.

Minute 14:30: Katabatic winds and getting your morning jog in on a glacier!

Minute 16:45: Ice core samples.

Minute 17:20: The National Science Foundation + funding from the U.S. government.

Minute 21:00: What is climate? How is it different from weather? Discussion on recent storms and weather.

Minute 21:45 - Common misconception a lot of people think climate change

Minute 22:20 - Climate change is really complex!

Minute 26:05: Sarah’s study on dust in the atmosphere getting transported to the U.S. (a paper/research project on the Sierra Nevada Mountains).  How does this change with increasing drought frequency?

Minute 29:00: What is dust? Particles that are 1 micron - 30 microns in diameter. For reference, human hair is 70 microns in diameter!

Minute 33:30: Dust naturally occurs.

Minute 35:35: Discussion on the Dust Bowl - how poor farm management practices led to an Increased generation of dust.

Minute 38:00: Women in science -- specifically, in paleoclimatology. What is “the leaky pipeline”?

Minute 43:15: Sarah’s upbringing in Alaska and how it influenced her professional career.

Minute 45:20: Sarah’s grandmother is already noticing environmental changes.  

Minute 48:45: How do we know climate change is caused by humans?

49:20: Climate change deniers. The Keeling Curve is a graph that plots the ongoing change in concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere since the 1950s.

51:45: Carbon isotope composition. Fossil fuels are different than all other types of carbon in the atmosphere.

Minute 54:15: Ice sheet collapse - discussion on the western and eastern antarctic ice sheets.

Minute 1:00: Discussion on carbon dioxide concentration variations.

Minute 1:03: How Sarah focuses on climate change preparedness.

Minute 1:05:  Sarah’s crazy environmental change idea: ban on all non-reusable plastic. Micro-plastic and new findings.

Minute 1:08: Sarah’s habit change - to reduce the amount of waste one produces (the zero-waste idea).


Erin Delawalla