Earth and moon

Can changes underway at Earth's poles foretell our climatic future? Find out at two free, public lectures entitled, "The Ends of the Earth: Examining the Arctic and Antarctic Ice Covers," at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Thurs., Dec. 13, and Pasadena City College on Fri., Dec. 14.

Benjamin Holt, research scientist for JPL's polar oceanography group, will discuss effects of the poles on Earth's climate system and current findings on changes in polar ice cover. Scientists have long suspected changes to Earth's climate will first be seen at the poles, particularly the Arctic. Recent reports from the Arctic confirm the continuing retreat of glaciers and thinning of sea ice.

The last decade has seen a significant increase in the formation of new icebergs in Antarctica. Just last month, the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer instrument aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft captured the formation of a 714-square-kilometer (286-square-mile) iceberg from Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica.

Terra and other Earth-observing spacecraft provide an excellent means of monitoring ice in the polar regions. JPL researchers, including Holt, are using a broad range of satellite data to examine the poles, seeking early clues to help predict future global and regional climate change.

Holt analyzes satellite imagery for sea ice and oceanography applications. He is a principal investigator on NASA grants examining the roles of sea ice in Arctic Ocean circulation and coastal circulation off California. He has participated in four field experiments on sea ice in the Arctic. He was on the science staff for the Seasat, Shuttle Imaging Radar B and Shuttle Imaging Radar C/X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar missions. He is currently the task scientist for the Alaska Synthetic Aperture Radar Facility Development project, under which he worked on two Antarctic mapping missions. He received a bachelor's degree from Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., and a master's degree in physical oceanography from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Both lectures begin at 7 p.m. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The lecture will be webcast live and will be available after the event on the JPL Web site. The lecture at JPL, located at 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena, off the Oak Grove Drive exit of the 210 (Foothill) Freeway, will be held in the von Karman Auditorium. The Friday lecture will be held in Pasadena City College's Forum at 1570 E. Colorado Blvd.

For more information, call (818) 354-5011. Information on the von Karman lecture and webcast is available at JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

News Media Contact

JPL/Alan Buid (818) 354-0474