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As the climate warms, greenhouse gases could be released from thawing permafrost; Can science fact make good drama – a $10,000 competition is underway; Do whales have dialects?

Permafrost thawing

One of the difficulties with the science of climate change is that it is a work in progress, and new evidence is constantly coming in.

Sometimes that evidence is a game changer, which means that models of global warming have to be adjusted.

Now a new report, published in the journal Nature, on melting arctic permafrost, warns of the consequences of this happening.

Permafrost is soil that has always frozen solid, locking away carbon.

As the permafrost melts it will release that carbon into the atmosphere, in the form of greenhouse gases.

This will add to global warming leading to more permafrost melting, a vicious circle.

Ted Schuur from the University of Florida is one of the authors of the report.

STAGE – putting drama into Science

Is it possible to write good fiction about science? A competition to find a great science drama is underway.

STAGE, which stands for Scientists, Technologists and Artists Generating Exploration, is awarding a $10,000 prize for a new play about science or technology.

This will be the fifth time that the prize has been awarded.

The current STAGE winner is Craig Baxter, a playwright from Cambridge in the UK, who also works for the International Glaciological Society.

He joins us on the programme and we hear a specially recorded extract from his award winning play.

Whale dialects

Marine scientists have long been trying to decode whale song.

Many suspect that the sometimes haunting, sometimes chaotic calls of marine mammals betray a complex language.

Now scientists are asking us for a hand in identifying whale dialects, by listening to them online.

Ian Boyd, the Director of the Sea Mammal Research Institute at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, is on the programme.

Available now

18 minutes

Last on

Mon 5 Dec 2011 00:32GMT


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