Chapter 21: Professor Dorthe Dahl-Jensen

Dorthe Dahl-Jensen did not know what she wanted to be when she was in high school, and probably not many high school students think they should be a glaciologist. But she was a scout and an outdoors person and she signed up for the mountain and glacier courses with the Norwegian scouts.

“I was good at physics and mathematics, and in the 3rd grade, I flipped through the lesson catalog that my father gave me and saw that you could study glaciology and that fieldwork was mandatory. So, I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll grab that; that’s just me.’ Along the way, I found many other things interesting, and I was changing my course a few times. But when I joined the fieldwork in Greenland and helped drill ice cores, I thought, ‘This is me.’ I’ve always thought I’d have to do something else in my life too, but it never happened because I always think that it’s really exciting what I do. But if I’d done something else, I’d probably think it was just as much fun as what I do now”.

Dorthe Dahl-Jensen’s research is about using so-called ice cores – long cylinders of ice drilled out of the ice sheet – to learn about the Earth’s climate over time. The researchers combine the measurements of the ice cores with models of climate processes to make predictions about what may happen in the future, and this is the overall goal of their research.

“A lot of the research we did while we had the Center of Excellence [Center for Ice and Climate] focused on the warm climate periods in the past. 120,000 years ago, when we were in the previous interglacial period, called the Eemian period, the climate in Greenland was about eight degrees warmer than today. So, what happened to the Greenland ice sheet? It became smaller, but only so much that it may have contributed to a sea level rise of two meters. A very significant part of the rest of the sea level rise must have come from Antarctica. This is a concrete example of the goals we have achieved through our research.”

You can read the full portrait of Professor Dorthe Dahl-Jensen by downloading the chapter below (In Danish)

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