These Scientists Study the Arctic. What’s Their Take on ‘Chiberia’?


Near-empty streets and sidewalks. Blocks of ice.

Those were among the sights in Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday, as parts of the city and many of its residents took time off to stay warm – indoors. But these record-breaking temperatures are not unusual in other parts of the world, where people and businesses continue their day-to-day lives when things freeze over.

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Researchers like Scott Collis, an atmospheric scientist with Argonne National Laboratory, and Yarrow Axford, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, have ventured into those cold regions for research. Those places include Utqiagvik, Alaska, the northern most city in the U.S. – formerly known as Barrow – and Thule Air Base in Greenland.

Collis and Axford join us to discuss their tips on how to stay warm and what Chicago could expect for the rest of the season.

  • Scott Collis stands on ice sheet in Utqiagvik, Alaska, where temperatures can reach between minus 40 to minus 50 degrees. (Courtesy Scott Collis)

    Scott Collis stands on ice sheet in Utqiagvik, Alaska, where temperatures can reach between minus 40 to minus 50 degrees. (Courtesy Scott Collis)

  • Yarrow Axford (Photo by Alex P. Taylor)

    Yarrow Axford (Photo by Alex P. Taylor)

  • Northwestern Ph.D. students stand with Yarrow Axford in front of a glacier in Northwest Greenland near the Thule Air Base in August 2014. (Photo by Alex P. Taylor)

    Northwestern Ph.D. students stand with Yarrow Axford in front of a glacier in Northwest Greenland near the Thule Air Base in August 2014. (Photo by Alex P. Taylor)


Related stories:

In Chicago, No Time to Chill Out About the Weather

The Dangerous Beauty of ‘Chiberia’

Chicago Copes with Record-Setting Cold

Shiver, Fluff and Cuddle: How Birds Keep Warm in the Winter

Frostbite Can Hit in Just 5 Minutes. Here’s What You Can Do To Prevent It

Your Weather Photos: Chicago’s Bitter Cold

Tips for Managing Icy Sidewalks Without Harming the Environment


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