John Moore is still optimistic about combatting climate change.
Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been melting at an accelerating pace over the past twenty years. According to the latest forecasts, sea levels will rise by more than one metre by 2100.
– We need to find solutions urgently to prevent the
Arctic and Antarctic ice from melting at an explosive speed and the permafrost from
releasing methane into the atmosphere. Because if that happens, it will not be pretty,
John Moore says.
60, is a research professor in the Global Change Research Group and a
geophysicist specialized in glaciology. He earned his PhD at the British
Antarctic Survey in 1988.
the Arctic Centre, Moore began as a special researcher in 1993. He has also
worked as a visiting professor at the Polar Research Institute of China and was
a visiting researcher at Beijing University for almost ten years.
Moore has studied the mechanisms
of the climate system, sea-level changes and ice cover. He has done geophysical
fieldwork around the world and developed geoengineering scenarios. He has studied the effects of
climate change on the Antarctic ice sheet, Svalbard, Greenland, Tibet, and
– As a research location, Antarctica is
definitely the best of all. Three months in a tent, with another scientist. That
is real life, says Moore, who learned to ski in Antarctica.
the world of scientists and adventurers, Moore’s role models include American
astronomer Carl Sagan and Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen.
of the places where Moore has done fieldwork no longer exist. The ice, which had
remained stable for thousands of years, has begun to melt into the ocean, drop
by drop. Places that used to be associated with adventure are turning into scenes
The annual melting rate of the Greenland
ice sheet has risen from around 35 billion to 215 billion tonnes, from 30
billion to 147 billion tonnes in Antarctica.
would like to slow down melting with geoengineering. This will give mankind
more time to combat climate change. According to Moore, an effective way would be to prevent warm water
from flowing to the glaciers by building berms. This could give the coastal
areas up to a few centuries of additional time to prepare for rising sea
permafrost is a ticking time bomb. 1400-1600 billion tonnes of methane have
been stored in permafrost. In the seabed, the amount is about twice as high.
According to Moore, the release of methane into the atmosphere will be the tipping
point for mankind. When this happens, we will have lost the game.
must take responsibility for its actions and not behave like a drunk driver on
with his colleagues, Moore has been modelling for decades the ways climate
change increases the incidence of extreme weather events around the world. A
recent example is the forest fires in Canada and Siberia, which will most
likely become more common as climate change progresses.
Moore has stared the more serious consequences of climate change in the eye, he
is optimistic. Moore
believes that humanity already holds all the keys to combatting climate change.
notes that there is no other institute than the Arctic Centre that has combined
multidisciplinary Arctic research of international significance so successfully.
Yet Moore would like the researchers to get better funding and raise their
– The Arctic Centre has a higher profile abroad
than at home. The world knows that if you need Arctic experts, they can call us.
says that he wants to increase cooperation with Russian permafrost researchers
in the future. He knows a pair of researchers, father, and son, who have
studied in Eastern Siberia for twenty-five years to find ways to slow down the thawing
most important thing is to note that the situation is not entirely hopeless.
Most people, especially young people, are well aware of what is happening.
Climate change needs to be studied at the regional level and divided into smaller
parts. We need to seek solutions piece by piece.
Text and photo: Johannes Roviomaa