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.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Ronny Tertnes' "liquid sculptures" are otherworldly.

Human beings have sculpted artwork out of all kinds of materials throughout history, from clay to concrete to bronze. Some sculpt with water in the form of ice, but what if you could create sculptures with small drops of liquid?

Norwegian artist Ronny Tertnes does just that. His "liquid sculptures" look like something from another planet or another dimension, while at the same time are entirely recognizable as water droplets.

I mean, check this out:


Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

More

The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

Keep Reading Show less

Your weekly roundup of internet sunshine.

Hey everyone! Hope you're staying safe and healthy, and if you're not, at least you know you're not alone. I mean, omicron? Phew. Pandemics certainly know how to keep us on our toes.

If you need a respite or distraction from all that, we've got you covered. If immersing yourself in cute animal videos and feel-good stories of human awesomeness is wrong, who wants to be right? Nobody, that's who.

We all need a break from the less pleasant parts of life, and cheering ourselves up with simple, happy things is a tried and true way to push those endorphins and lift our mood for a bit.

Keep Reading Show less