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.”

5 Responses to “Leo DiCaprio’s Dark Snow Connection”

  1. Andy Lee Robinson Says:

    Way cool!!!

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Excellent link!—-cogent and passionate commentary in “love is not enough”—much food for thought about climate change science and psychological factors (particularly the cognitive dissonance displayed by the “celebrities” who are “on our side”). Some samples:

      “This conviction that each person carries within them – that their priorities are exceptional and that the rules don’t apply – leads to absurdities such as taking air travel off the table at the climate negotiations in Paris. Nearly everyone who participated, obviously, had flown there. Flying is the third rail of climate activism – the organizations with a mandate to avoid catastrophic climate change won’t touch it, because there is no way to reduce emissions by even the unrealistic thresholds agreed to by negotiators without drastically reducing if not eliminating the exceptionally high impact of airplane emissions”.

      “Harrison Ford, another spokesman for Conservation International, said “There’s nothing better than seeing a herd of elk right outside the window of my house in Wyoming. My land gives me an opportunity to be close to nature, and I find spiritual solace in nature, contemplating our species in the context of the natural world.” Apparently he finds no irony in adding “All of my planes are great to fly, and that’s why I’ve got so many of them. I have a Citation Sovereign, a long-range jet; a Grand Caravan, a turboprop aircraft capable of operating on unimproved strips; and a De Havilland, a bush plane. I have a 1929 Waco Taperwing open-top biplane; a 1942 PT-22 open-top monoplane trainer; an Aviat Husky, a two-seat fabric-covered bush plane; and a Bell 407 helicopter. I also have more than my fair share of motorbikes – eight or nine. I have four or five BMWs, a couple of Harleys, a couple of Hondas and a Triumph; plus I have sports touring bikes.”

      “About a year ago at the American Geophysical Union conference, James White from the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research gave an inspired lecture about
      abrupt climate change. I’m going to paraphrase his compelling description of a tipping point. His analogy begins with an explorer traveling downstream by canoe on the Niagara River . He can hear an immense roar in the distance, but doesn’t recognize it as being the massive falls. The current becomes faster and more irresistible, and by the time he realizes that he is going to cascade over the immense verge plunging to certain death, it is too late to paddle to the shore. The time to have done so was behind him”.

      “In other words, tipping points are by definition seen only in hindsight. They aren’t recognized ahead of time, or even as they occur, except possibly by a few odd Cassandras, who are borderline insane by normal standards”.

  2. Dear Leo,

    It’s great that you’re so interested in climate change. BUT….

    What would be a lot more helpful would be for you and you and your fellow rich celebs to focus on reducing your own celeb-size carbon footprints [MASSIVE], and even, maybe, engaging in some activism that doesn’t actually add to the problem in terms of carbon emitted.

    You’re welcome.


    a person who would like to leave a habitable world for future generations

Leave a Reply to witsendnj Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: