Want to know what the North Pole is really like? We asked an Arctic researcher.

When Richard Krishfield began his career fixing office equipment, he had no idea it would take him to the ends of the Earth.

Then, in 1986, Krishfield, who had spent years working on computers and electronics for businesses, was asked down to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) in Massachusetts to work on one of their instruments — a conductivity, temperature, and depth (or CTD) device that collects data from its seat on the ocean floor.

It wasn't the work Krishfield was used to, but it offered an intriguing promise of adventure.


"I thought well, jeez, it might be kind of fun to work on ships and travel the world for a few years," Krishfield says over the phone. 30 years later, he's still doing it.

WHOI researchers in Greenland in 2013. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

For over 80 years, the WHOI has been at the forefront of oceanographic study and innovation. Their scientists, engineers, and innovators routinely travel around the globe — from oil spill sites to exotic coastal shores to underwater volcanoes — collecting valuable data and learning how our world works.

Krishfield's work with the WHOI has brought him to some of the world's most extreme places, including the North Pole.

Unlike the iconic images of a massive, globe-spanning, elf-employing, gift-making, reindeer-housing operation run by a jolly man in a red suit, the real North Pole is home to navigators and researchers who brave some of the coldest weather on the planet in the name of science.

Though some have been known to dress up as Santa while they're there:

Wouldn't you? Photo via Richard Krishfield, used with permission.

Living and working at the North Pole is an intense experience that takes a physical toll on those who venture out there.

Every year, Krishfield and his team spend months at a time camping out in the Arctic, setting up advanced observation instruments that send real-time data back to the WHOI. "Basically they’re sending back what you might consider the weather of the ocean," says Krishfield. And setting them up is no easy task.

"You’re living in a tent on the ice," says Krishfield. "And you don't have things like forklifts, so you have to muscle heavy equipment on and off small airplanes." Those airplanes land on makeshift runways that are cleared out by workers, too. In order for the ice to be thick enough to land a plane on, most of the work has to happen when it's as cold as possible.

"You have to get acclimated to the minus-20 or minus-30 degree temperatures and dress appropriately and know what to do," Krishfield says.

It's not exactly campfire songs and s'mores. Photo via Richard Krishfield, used with permission.

Over his 30-year career, Krishfield has seen firsthand just how much the Arctic is changing.

"Obviously the ice is melting," he says. "And in the 30 years I’ve been going up there, it's very clear how much."

One of the instruments Krishfield has helped set up is a buoy that sits on ice floes and dangles sensors into the water below to measure temperature, salinity, and current velocity of the ocean. When he first started installing them, he and his team would look for ice floes that were up to 4 meters thick.

"Then after a couple years we were looking for 2- to 3-meter floes," says Krishfield. "Then we were looking for 1-and-ahalf to 1-meter floes, and then this last summer, we were out there, and there was hardly any thick ice at all."

A plane flies over ice in Greenland. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Of course, Krishfield and the scientific community have been reporting shrinking ice in the Arctic for a long time. Studies confirmed long ago that the Arctic is warming, that the ice is melting, and just how catastrophic the result of that could be for the Earth's climate and ecosystems.

If the Arctic becomes a seasonal ice cap (where ice melts during the summer and refreezes during the winter), it could throw the planet's weather systems into utter chaos. Scientists estimate that could be the case by 2050.

"Probably sooner than that," says Krishfield.

You don't need to look at satellite data to see how much the Arctic has changed, Krishfield says.

"I look back and think of all the trips we used to do back in the summertime ... it was really beautiful out there," he recalls. "It’d be bright and sunny, and it was just beautiful."

"Now that the ice has melted away quite a bit, what you end up having is very grey, dull, dreary, and sort of foggy days out there. So the whole climate of it has changed."

A glacier in the Arctic Ocean. Photo by Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images.

It's hard to imagine that human beings could have any effect on the North Pole — as far away from it as we are — but we can and we do.

Arctic sea ice loss has been directly linked to carbon emissions, and saving the Arctic is a matter of cutting down those emissions quickly and dramatically. The North Pole is so extreme and so far away that we hardly ever think about it — let alone wrestle with the true global impact of what would happen if we let it melt. Odds are, the North Pole only comes up in conversation around Christmas — and not exactly in a "lets save the Arctic ice cap" context.

If you find hope in one thing though, consider the fact that human beings really can have an impact on the Arctic, for worse — or for better. Our actions have brought the Arctic Ocean to the brink, but it's the actions we take next, along with the hard work of scientists and researchers like Krishfield, that save it.

True

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday are teaming up to find the people who lead with love everyday.

Know someone in your neighborhood who's known for their optimistic attitude, commitment to bettering their community and always leading with love? Tell us about them for the chance to win a $2,000 grant to keep doing good in their community.

Nomination ends November 22, 2020

File:Pornhub-logo.svg - Wikimedia Commons

A 2015 survey conducted by the National Union of Students found that 60% of respondents turned to porn to fill in the gaps in sex education. While 40% of those people said they learned a little, 75% of respondents said they felt porn created unrealistic expectations when it comes to sex. Some of the unrealistic expectations from porn can be dangerous. A study found that 88% of porn contained violence, and another study found that those who consumed porn were more likely to become sexually aggressive.

But now the thing that breaks those unrealistic expectations… might also be porn? Pornhub has launched a sex education section.

The adult website's first series is simply titled, "Pornhub Sex Ed" and contains 11 videos and is accessible through the Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center. The section also contains articles, some showing real anatomy and examples in order to bust myths people may have picked up on other portions of the website.

Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic and it feels like disinformation and denial have spread as quickly as the virus itself. Unfortunately, disinformation and denial during a pandemic is deadly. Literally. People who refuse to accept the reality we're living in, who go about daily life as if nothing unusual were happening, who won't wear a mask or keep their distance from people, are preventing communities from being able to keep the pandemic under control—with very real consequences.

An ER nurse in South Dakota shared her experience treating COVID patients—some of whom refuse to believe they have COVID—and it's really shocking. One might think that the virus would become real to people if they were directly affected by it, but apparently that's just not true for some. As Jodi Doering wrote on Twitter:

"I have a night off from the hospital. As I'm on my couch with my dog I can't help but think of the Covid patients the last few days. The ones that stick out are those who still don't believe the virus is real. The ones who scream at you for a magic medicine and that Joe Biden is going to ruin the USA. All while gasping for breath on 100% Vapotherm. They tell you there must be another reason they are sick. They call you names and ask why you have to wear all that 'stuff' because they don't have COViD because it's not real. Yes. This really happens. And I can't stop thinking about it. These people really think this isn't going to happen to them. And then they stop yelling at you when they get intubated. It's like a fucking horror movie that never ends. There's no credits that roll. You just go back and do it all over again."

Keep Reading Show less

While many of us have understandably let the challenges of 2020 get under our skin and bring us down, a young man from Florida was securing his place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Chris Nikic became the first person with Down syndrome to complete a full triathlon.

For the majority of people, a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride or a 26.2 mile run would be difficult on its own. The Ironman competition requires participants to complete them all in one grueling race. In a statement, Special Olympics Florida President and CEO Sherry Wheelock called Chris "an inspiration to all of us." She continued, "We are incredibly proud of Chris and the work he has put in to achieve this monumental goal. He's become a hero to athletes, fans, and people across Florida and around the world."

Nikic's journey to become an Ironman started off as a challenge far less lofty. He and his father, Nik, created the "1 percent better challenge." The idea was to keep Chris motivated during the pandemic and beyond. According to The Washington Post, the idea was for Chris to improve his workouts by one percent each day because he "doesn't like pain" but loves "food, videos games and my couch." The plan was to keep building strength and stamina while keeping his eye on the grand prize of completing a triathlon. Nik told the Panama City News Herald, "I was concerned because after high school and after graduation a lot of kids with Down syndrome become isolated and just start living a life of isolation. I said, 'Look, let's go find him something to get him back into the world and get him involved,' so we started looking around and we were fortunate that at the same time Special Olympics Florida started this triathlon program, and I thought, 'What a great way to get him started, get him in shape and get him to make some friends.'"


Keep Reading Show less