Verbing Science! with Celeste Labedz
5. Celeste Labedz, “The Cold Never Bothered Her Anyway”
Science is fundamentally about relationships – specifically, deciphering the relationships between phenomena and ideas. Like novelists, essayists, and other creative writers, scientists use language to construct arguments that will help themselves and others understand precisely how their observations are related to their conclusions. In the case of real-life ice princess Dr. Celeste Labedz, the study of cryoseismology – i.e., icequakes – allows her to use the behavior of ice in glaciers to draw important conclusions about climate change.
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[00:00:09.019]All writing is persuasive writing.
[00:00:11.720]Whether you're composing an argumentative essay
[00:00:14.730]a short story or a scientific article
[00:00:17.550]your goal is to evoke a desired response from your readers.
[00:00:21.270]Guide them toward a particular conclusion.
[00:00:24.191]In other words, you're constructing an argument
[00:00:26.430]that will persuade your audience to see the world
[00:00:28.860]in a certain way.
[00:00:30.840]Science is fundamentally about deciphering the relationships
[00:00:34.350]between things and scientists construct arguments
[00:00:37.470]to help themselves and others understand precisely
[00:00:40.260]how their observations are related to their conclusions.
[00:00:47.640]Cryoseismology, the study of ice quakes is the coolest.
[00:00:54.210]In this episode,
[00:00:55.080]real Life Ice Princess, Dr. Celeste Labettes shares
[00:00:58.050]her work with the Juno Ice field Research Program in Alaska.
[00:01:01.830]She explains why ice is so special and important
[00:01:04.800]telling us how she measures the behavior
[00:01:06.780]of ice in glaciers to draw important conclusions
[00:01:09.750]about climate change.
[00:01:11.520]I'm Jocelyn and let's get Verbing.
[00:01:23.340]A lot of cryoseismology's goal right now is to
[00:01:26.910]provide improved ways of looking at what's going on
[00:01:30.390]in a glacier system or in an ice sheet system or
[00:01:33.810]in permafrost or whatever.
[00:01:35.520]We need more tools, especially in a change in climate where
[00:01:38.670]a lot of these systems are undergoing some wild
[00:01:42.345]Having more tools to be able to observe them well is really
[00:01:46.385]really helpful to get a more full understanding.
[00:01:49.920]And so you can detect seismic signals that come from deep
[00:01:53.580]within a glacier and flowing water going underneath
[00:01:56.100]the glacier or in sliding happening at the bed.
[00:01:58.380]And those are things that you can't see with your eyes.
[00:02:00.660]Now there are a lot of other tools that we can use to
[00:02:02.310]look inside of glaciers too.
[00:02:03.540]You can use radar to sort of take like an x-ray slice
[00:02:07.200]of a glacier and maybe see what it shape is
[00:02:09.120]or you can draw bore holes into a glacier and stuff
[00:02:13.553]Together with cryoseismology can really help get a more
[00:02:16.050]complete picture of what's going on there.
[00:02:18.090]So it's a really, it's a cool observational tool
[00:02:21.330]that can tell us a little bit about either the source
[00:02:24.480]of those cryos, of those, of those ice quakes
[00:02:27.540]of those seismic waves, or it can tell us
[00:02:30.300]about the structure of the glacier as well.
[00:02:32.820]And it's non-invasive, I guess you could say, right?
[00:02:34.722]Yeah, don't have to drill into it.
[00:02:36.953]And so you're able to infer from
[00:02:39.000]what you observe what you can't observe directly
[00:02:41.790]or aren't observing directly.
[00:02:43.110]Yeah, and it's a lot easier too
[00:02:44.970]to just set a seismometer next
[00:02:46.350]to a glacier rather than having to get a big drill
[00:02:48.420]onto the ice and then drill down.
[00:02:50.340]Although they're telling you different things
[00:02:51.780]and sometimes you still need to
[00:02:53.190]you can get the best info from a borehole, but yeah
[00:02:55.860]it's really handy if you can just drop a seismometer
[00:02:57.308]and then leave it be, they don't need much babysitting
[00:03:00.600]if they have a solar panel and stuff like that.
[00:03:02.610]And then you can yeah, get
[00:03:04.950]get lots of really cool info from it.
[00:03:07.260]Is this kind of an exciting time to be a cryoseismologist?
[00:03:10.470]Just with climate change and ice is melting
[00:03:13.500]and a lot of definitely just changes going
[00:03:15.330]on with the climate and everything.
[00:03:16.680]Yeah, it definitely
[00:03:17.790]it's an interesting time to be working in-
[00:03:19.950]Maybe not exciting.
[00:03:21.616]Yeah, I remember that in a way in which, yeah
[00:03:23.730]it's actually like existentially, we're all dreading time
[00:03:25.637]but at the same time it's like you're getting a lot
[00:03:27.960]of data of like movements and yeah.
[00:03:30.540]Yeah, so it really, working in cryospheric sciences
[00:03:34.260]any kind of investigating our polar world,
[00:03:37.710]anything cold is very interesting to do right now
[00:03:39.930]in the age of climate change and really seeing the effects
[00:03:42.810]of climate change really reiterates the importance
[00:03:45.593]of doing that research.
[00:03:47.820]Because stuff like glaciers and how they melt
[00:03:50.490]how fast they're gonna melt
[00:03:51.480]how much mass they're gonna lose
[00:03:52.620]at what rate is really important
[00:03:54.210]for determining not only stuff
[00:03:55.830]like sea level rise, but also glacier meltwater.
[00:03:59.550]Regular old glacier meltwater is a stable source
[00:04:02.681]of drinking water and water for agriculture and
[00:04:06.060]it's a major water source for a lot of people in the world.
[00:04:08.490]So lots of folks in places like India and China are relying
[00:04:11.880]on glacier meltwater as a really good stable melt supply
[00:04:16.080]'cause there's lots of glaciers in places like Himalayas.
[00:04:18.420]And so they help provide some water resource stability
[00:04:22.020]to communities downstream.
[00:04:23.670]So yeah, in addition
[00:04:25.050]to sea level rise water resource is really important.
[00:04:27.240]So getting a thorough understanding
[00:04:29.733]of our glaciers is really important to be doing right
[00:04:33.780]now when we're facing some uncertainty
[00:04:36.065]in what might happen in even some fairly near futures.
[00:04:40.155]Yeah, I've, you know, I've thought about, a lot
[00:04:42.180]of people have heard of the biosphere, but I just realized
[00:04:44.160]after you saying that the cryosphere-
[00:04:47.056]Biosphere, cryosphere atmosphere.
[00:04:49.253]All of geo science we're really
[00:04:50.086]into all these different spheres.
[00:04:51.120]All the spheres.
[00:04:51.953]Yeah. It's a sphere focused science.
[00:04:55.391]As is Physics, the spherical cow joke.
Oh yeah, it's all spheres.
[00:04:59.963]And in the end it's all pies.
[00:05:02.280]And then the universe is just a giant pie and spheres
[00:05:04.860]and yeah, anyways.
[00:05:05.879]I'm gonna cut you off now.
[00:05:07.664]Cut me off please.
[00:05:09.510]So are there specific research questions
[00:05:12.030]that you're working on right now?
[00:05:14.040]So, cryoseismology and the sort of broader field
[00:05:17.880]that it's in called Environmental seismology
[00:05:20.010]that's just sort of looking
[00:05:21.210]at seismic signals from non earthquake sources.
[00:05:23.610]So you can also use seismology to look at rivers
[00:05:25.680]to look at landslides
[00:05:26.970]and all kinds of things are making seismic signals.
[00:05:30.270]They're, a lot
[00:05:31.110]of the big questions are how is this going to be the best
[00:05:33.870]and most useful and most exact observational tool?
[00:05:36.870]'Cause the goal is to get something that will
[00:05:39.000]either tell us more about a system
[00:05:41.492]so we can understand it better, or give us the first notice
[00:05:45.780]of something happening in the system.
[00:05:47.070]So for example, if you can detect glacial outburst floods
[00:05:50.610]which is when a lake on top of a glacier can drain through
[00:05:53.910]and put a lot of water out the end of the glacier,
[00:05:56.160]that can be a flood hazard for people downstream.
[00:05:58.260]So if you can detect it seismically first, then
[00:06:00.540]you don't have to wait to watch the watch more water coming
[00:06:02.910]out the end and you can warn the people downstream more.
[00:06:05.400]Folks are also interested in that for landslides.
[00:06:08.070]One of my friends at Caltech has done some research
[00:06:09.780]on what do the seismic signals from landslides look like.
[00:06:13.320]Maybe if we can give just a few more minutes of warning
[00:06:15.810]to communities downhill could be really helpful.
[00:06:18.540]So it's about using seismology as a tool
[00:06:23.850]to help get better understanding
[00:06:26.340]of our environment in general
[00:06:27.900]and helping us see some things that we might not
[00:06:29.820]be able to see without very sensitive seismometers.
[00:06:33.570]Like a secret decoder ring.
[00:06:35.250]You just have to, you know, know, okay, here's
[00:06:37.530]here's the encoded message that comes from the seismometer.
[00:06:41.160]What does that tell us about what's going on elsewhere?
[00:06:44.010]Yeah, that's kind of, a lot of seismology is like that.
[00:06:46.050]It's, it's decoding from squiggles to natural phenomenon.
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