Conservation & Science

Pressure on polar regions: our chief scientist takes the message to Washington

Dr. Brendan Kelly is more than our chief scientist and director of conservation research. He’s also an internationally respected authority on polar science. Before coming to the Aquarium, he was assistant director for Polar Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, deputy director of the Arctic division of the National Science Foundation, and a research scientist at NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Laboratory. He has held leadership and faculty positions with the University of Alaska, and speaks widely on climate change issues.

Dr. Brendan Kelly, Director of Conservation Research and Chief Scientist
Dr. Brendan Kelly, Director of Conservation Research and Chief Scientist

Because of his background, he’s often sought out as an expert speaker. That’s why he’s in Washington, DC this week. It’s a timely appearance, coming as new NOAA research points to the rapid acceleration of ocean acidification in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, threatening the ability of marine animals to build and maintain the shells they need to survive.

Here’s Brendan’s brief report. He’ll have more to share when he returns.

“I’m in Washington, DC this week to help celebrate National Ocean Month by drawing attention to the impact of global change on our planet’s polar regions.

Terra Antarctica director Jon Bowermaster explored the "seventh continent" by kayak, boat, foot and small plane to document the rapid pace of change.
Antarctica 3D: On the Edge director Jon Bowermaster explored the “seventh continent” by kayak, boat, foot and small plane to document the rapid pace of change.

“On Monday I was part of a program hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and moderated by its executive editor (and former Congressman) Rush Holt. We saw a new film on the impacts of climate change in Antarctica, Antarctica 3D: On the Edge. It was filmed when director Jon Bowermaster and his team explored the Antarctic by sailboat, sea kayak, foot and small plane – observing first-hand the rapid evolution of the continent. Then Robin Bell of Columbia University discussed science in Antarctica, and I presented on Arctic science. Russ moderated a subsequent discussion among the filmmaker, Robin and me.

“Today, we’ll continue talking polar science in a Congressional briefing hosted by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in a program that also will include Sens. Harry Reid and Bill Nelson, NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathy Sullivan, Dr. Marcia McNutt (past director of MBARI and USGS Science) and Chris McEntee (the executive director of the American Geophysical Union).

“I’m hopeful that Congress will appreciate from these events that the polar regions are changing rapidly with the impacts reverberating through the oceans and atmosphere across the globe.”

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