Leo DiCaprio’s Dark Snow Connection
March 3, 2016
As I’ve reported – the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation helped support last summer’s Dark Snow Project efforts in Greenland. Although my schedule did not mesh – Leo’s plans tend to be rather fluid – Jason Box was there to take Leo to some key locations on the ice, and sketch out the problem.
But that was last year.
This summer, for the first time in 3 years, I won’t be heading to Greenland – but there is another project in the works that expands on Dark Snow’s mission – and I’ll need your help.
Announcement coming soon.
If you’re ready to jump in now, click on the image below, and earmark your donation to Peter Sinclair 2016.
The speech came as no surprise to Jason Box, a glaciology professor at the Geologic Survey of Denmark and Greenland.Box is one of the scientists who was already personally familiar with the world-famous actor, thanks to DiCaprio’s support for his research in 2015.
Through his foundation, DiCaprio helped fund Box’s “Dark Snow” field campaign, which the prominent ice researcher is using to find out how much the darkening of the ice sheet from pollution in northern midlatitudes is speeding up its melting.
In a demonstration of his level of interest in this subject, Leo didn’t just help fund the Dark Snow campaign.
He also visited it, arriving straight from northern Canada, where he was shooting The Revenant.
DiCaprio met up with Box on July 6, 2015, Box told Mashable.
“I had a helicopter waiting. I toured him around for five hours. We filmed content, I suppose some of which will make it into a documentary he is producing on climate change. He was amazed more people didn’t live in Greenland because it was so ‘f’ing beautiful,'” Box wrote in an email.
A darker ice sheet absorbs more incoming solar energy during the summer melt season, which in turn melts more snow and ice, contributing to global sea level rise.
n addition to global warming from greenhouse gas emissions, darkening pollution can come from soot emitted by ships passing through the increasingly sea-ice-free Arctic Ocean during the summer, as well as from power plants and factories in East Asia.
In addition, massive wildfires burning in the vast taiga forests of Siberia, Alaska and Canada may also be accelerating the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.
Computer models have long shown the possibility of significant black carbon, more commonly known as soot, transport to Greenland and other parts of the Arctic.
Box’s work is critical for providing ground truth of what is landing on the ice and snow in the far north, and could result in new policies to limit soot emissions among nations in the northern hemisphere.
DiCaprio’s support of the project demonstrates the actor’s desire to not only help make tangible progress in conservation and climate policy, but also to help further scientific discoveries as well.
“I have no doubt he is truly concerned for the environment, and with good cause,” Box wrote.
DiCaprio appears to be turning into a genuine climate wonk — making him a rare mix of Al Gore crossed with Marlon Brando.
“I am consumed by this,” DiCaprio told Rolling Stone magazine. “There isn’t a couple of hours a day where I’m not thinking about it. It’s this slow burn. It’s not ‘aliens invading our planet next week and we have to get up and fight to defend our country,’ but it’s this inevitable thing, and it’s so terrifying.”
It’s rare, if not unheard of, for a Hollywood star to fund a scientific research project.
According to Box, DiCaprio’s support, which in this particular case was less than $100,000, provided four-fifths of the cost of a two-month-long field campaign on the ice sheet in 2015.
Box and his colleagues camped out on the ice and flew unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) above the ice each day, in order to take measurements of the ice sheet’s reflectivity and surface conditions.
“The UAVs provide a new perspective on the ice sheet surface, especially in cloudy conditions,” Box told Mashable in an email. Clouds typically shield the ice from observation via satellites, creating data gaps.
Box says his team currently has a scientific paper based on the research that DiCaprio’s foundation supported, and they are analyzing more data from the field campaign as well.
DiCaprio was among many past contributors to the Dark Snow field campaign, which is a crowdfunded project.
The DiCaprio Foundation funds, Box said, were “the largest amount of funding we had sourced so far for the Dark Snow Project.”