In the heart of the Antarctic

Discover Dr. Anaïs Orsi, 2015 L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellow and Doctorate researcher at the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement at the CEA.

A significant element of the climate system, the climate of the Antarctic is certainly the least known. Although it is now accepted that the Antarctic peninsula is warming at an accelerated rate, almost three times faster than the average for the planet, changes in temperature in the rest of the continent have been little studied. Doctorate researcher at the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement at the CEA, Anaïs Orsi focuses her work on the development of proxies, temperature indicators, to recreate the history of the climate in places where there is no historic data. Her project aims to roll out this kind of work in regions where little is known about the climate, by participating in new ice-core drilling in the Antarctic. New data will provide a better understanding of climates, which is essential to increase our ability to model them and predict future changes, in particular the increase in ocean levels. As an intrepid scientist, Anaïs Orsi participates in “field research where we work 15 hours a day and sleep in a tent. I was looking for a job that was intellectually stimulating and where I wouldn’t spend all my time in front of a computer, and I have found one!” explains the young researcher. 

I like the fact that my job is like being a detective. Trying to understand the world and find clues here and there. One thing I do, it seems super simple in a way, is that we drill this ice course, cylinders of ice, cd-size and after we have a hole. And one of the things I do, I measure temperature in this hole. Because the snow is full of air and because there is a lot of air in the snow, it doesn’t conduct heat very well. So when you go down you can very clearly see global warming, and you go further you can the little ice age in 1800 and you can measure that through simple temperature. So I started measuring global warming. I was super surprised because the other scientists were making holes and they weren’t measuring global warming. And it turns out, the scientists are 30 years older than me. Climate change isn’t in their mind-set the way it’s in mine. So then I started joining everyone’s project to start measuring temperature. 


For Women in Science

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