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The International Ice Patrol, Iceberg Bombing, and Technoscientific Control of the North Atlantic Ocean since the Titanic

2015.09.14 | Peter Schmidt Mikkelsen

Date Wed 16 Sep
Time 14:15 15:30
Location Colloquium CSS, room 1520-731:

Greenland's ice has become a celebrity as the world grapples with climate change, melting glaciers, and sea level rise.  One critical but often overlooked aspect of Greenland's ice is the thousands of icebergs created there every day—such as the berg that sunk the unsinkable Titanic a century ago.  Ever since that tragedy in 1912, the International Ice Patrol has been trying find and track every iceberg that the Labrador Current carries from Greenland's west coast to the busy shipping lanes between Europe and North America.  With their daily bulletin, "The Limits of All Known Ice," the Ice Patrol has had an amazing success record of preventing ship-iceberg collisions.  This presentation examines the history of the Ice Patrol, from its origins and work to understand oceanographic currents that carried icebergs, to its decades-long efforts to bomb and obliterate bergs (which failed—the ice won), to the tension with shipping companies over placement of the Shipping Lanes in the North Atlantic.  The broader goal is to think through not only how intractable ice shaped science and society, but also how a variety of other forces influenced the efforts to understand, control, and remake—through science and technology—the North Atlantic Ocean.

Mark Carey specializes in environmental history and the history of science. He earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Davis, and held a Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Geography department at the University of California, Berkeley. His research has focused on several topics: climate change, glacier-society interactions, natural disasters, mountaineering, water, and health/medicine. His goal is to understand dynamic interactions among people, knowledge systems, environmental perceptions, and natural processes.  Carey's research links many fields -- from history and geography to glaciology and climatology, medicine and recreation. For more information see:

honors.uoregon.edu/faculty/mark-carey and

Lecture / talk