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Who Left the Freezer Door Open

Robert Bindschadler
Chief Scientist,
Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory
Goddard Space Flight Center

The coldest areas of the planet where water and soil are frozen—called the cryosphere--are changing rapidly.  Sea ice cover is shrinking in area at rates as high as 10% per decade in the Arctic and has thinned 40% in a half century.  Continued loss of the pack ice will radically alter the economic and ecological landscape of the Arctic.  Sudden accelerations of ice flow by 100s of percent in just a few years at the edges of the thick Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have surprised experts and forced revision of glacier flow processes to make them more sensitive to climate.  Predictions of the consequent rise in sea level worldwide continue to lag behind reality.  Snowcover is melting sooner in spring diminishing the amount of this precious resource available to water-sensitive communities during critical summer months.  All this is evidence that we are moving rapidly toward a warmer climate with less ice.  The exact path we take is still uncertain and an issue of increasing urgency.

Short Biographical Sketch
Robert Bindschadler is a Chief Scientist of the NASA's Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, a Senior Fellow of the Goddard Space Flight Center, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and a past President of the International Glaciological Society.  He maintains an active interest in the dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets, primarily on Earth, investigating how remote sensing can be used to improve our understanding of the role of ice in the Earth's climate.  As the leader of fourteen Antarctic field expeditions he has extensive first-hand knowledge of the hazards and challenges of working in the Antarctic environment.  Other research has taken him to Greenland and various glaciers throughout the world.  During his 27 years at Goddard, he has developed numerous unique applications of remote sensing data for glaciological research. He has testified before Congress and briefed the U.S. Vice President on the issue of ice-sheet stability and served on many scientific commissions and study groups as an expert in glaciology and remote sensing of ice.  He has published over 140 scientific papers, numerous review articles and has appeared on television, radio and is often quoted in print media commenting on glaciological impacts of the climate on the world's ice sheets and glaciers.
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