Oceans of Opportunity

sunday; snowy sunday…

'A New Life in the Sea' by Michael LombardiTalk about the woes of winter – this one can’t come to an end soon enough. With seemingly every weekend being buried with snow, there hasn’t been much time freed up to stay on top of proficiency dives and new experimental techniques which had been the weekend norm for about the last year. This has been frustrating to say the least.

I can deal with the cold, its the immobility from being snowed in that gets to me. While I’m probably starting to sound like the whining of the masses that have all been trapped this winter, I suppose a positive thing that arose was a reminder of just how powerful water is in its solid form – ICE.

Like many in the neighborhood, the effects of ice damage on and in the house are starting to manifest themselves. Minor leaks, busted siding, creaking rooftops, ice dams on the roof, and it goes on. As critical as water is to our survival, it is also an incredibly destructive force. As I spent the day clearing ice and snow from a few critical places on the roof, and addressing some interior leaks (ugghh), I was reminded of my experiences in Antarctica.

A ‘pressure ridge’ over the Antarctic sea ice, formed from rifts in the annual sea ice pushing up on one another; not unlike plate tectonics at work. Photo by M. Lombardi 2002.

When we hear of the ‘extremes’ of the poles, its not just about the cold – it’s about the extremely complex environment created by the interface of sub zero air temperature, below freezing water temperature, and an air-water interface often lined by ICE. Ice is so very powerful. It’s heavy, can expand and contract, take the shape of its surroundings, and place immense pressure on surfaces that it interfaces with.

In times where discussions weigh heavily on global warming [or rather, climate change], its a bit ironic to be talking about the threat of ice, though in my perspective the shift in seasonal variation we’re seeing, coupled with radical change at the poles is the tell-all that climate change is real and we’ve got problems. Anyway, just as coastal communities have to deal with rising tides, the power of water can and does take its toll in other forms throughout the world – and with just as much of an impact.

Even more the reason to find a new balance of our relationship with this Blue Planet and its resources. Rather than fend off or fight the environment, we should learn how to embrace it in an environmentally conscious and responsible way.

As much as I’d love to return to Antarctica for another wave of scientific and self-study, I’m about ready for a wave of sunshine first. And when we get it here in New England, it will undoubtedly be time to write about flooding…


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