‘Lost Antarctica’: A Scientist’s Tales From A ‘Disappearing Land’

Marine biologist James McClintock knows, as well as anyone on the planet, the incredible majesty of Antarctica. From his home in Alabama, he’s been heading south — all the way south — for 30 years.

Expedition after Antarctic expedition. Over the ice, under the ice. He’s seen wonders that would make your eyeballs pop. Your heart stop. Giant leopard seals, lunging up from the deep. Giant glaciers calving giant ice calves.

And more and more, McClintock says, stark evidence of climate change.

This hour, On Point: To the Antarctic, with a witness to wild change.

— Tom Ashbrook


James McClintock, professor of marine biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who has been travelling to Antarctica for research since 1982. His current work is focused on the effects of climate change on Antarctica. His new book is “Lost Antarctica: Adventures In A Disappearing Land.” (@JiminAntarctica)

Jeff Goodell, contributing editor at Rolling Stone Magazine whose recent piece, “Goodbye, Miami,” is about rising sea levels. He’s also the author of “How To Cool The Planet: Geoengineering And The Audacious Quest To Fix Earth’s Climate.” (@jeffgoodell)

Book Excerpt

Excerpted from “Lost Antarctica: Adventures In A Disappearing Land” by James McClintock. Copyright 2012 by James McClintock. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Palgrave Macmillan.

Map Of Melting

Rates of basal melt of Antarctic ice shelves (melting of the shelves from underneath) overlaid on a 2009 mosaic of Antarctica created from data from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua spacecraft. (NASA)

CLICK TO ENLARGE: Rates of basal melt of Antarctic ice shelves (melting of the shelves from underneath) overlaid on a 2009 mosaic of Antarctica. (NASA)

From Tom’s Reading List

Rolling Stone: Goodbye, Miami — “By century’s end, rising sea levels will turn the nation’s urban fantasyland into an American Atlantis. But long before the city is completely underwater, chaos will begin.”

NASA: Warm Ocean Causing Most Antarctic Ice Shelf Mass Loss — “Antarctica holds about 60 percent of the planet’s fresh water locked into its massive ice sheet. Ice shelves buttress the glaciers behind them, modulating the speed at which these rivers of ice flow into the ocean. Determining how ice shelves melt will help scientists improve projections of how the Antarctic ice sheet will respond to a warming ocean and contribute to sea level rise.”

The Birmingham News: UAB Scientist Jim McClintock’s Adventures In Antarctica Become A Great Read — “McClintock is a rock star in polar marine biology, so much so that there’s even a point of land named after him in Antarctica. He’s led 14 research expeditions there over the past 30 years, tracking the transformation of the continent caused by climate change.”

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