25 June, 2012, on his way for his 23rd Greenland expedition, sitting in New York’s Laguardia airport terminal, writing a meltfactor.org blog on Greenland’s declining reflectivity (a.k.a albedo), Box beheld the crowded waiting area with crowds glued to TV monitors that blared news about record setting Colorado wilderness. Box’s research had linked Greenland’s albedo decline with the warming of the past decade, but was wilderness soot making the ice even darker?
From the airport, Box rang snow optics expert Dr. Tom Painter to ask if snow surface samples could identify wilderness soot and its source (Colorado? Siberia? Arctic Canada?) and whether it was possible to discriminate between industrial and wilderness soot. Painter: “YES”.
In the minutes before Box’s flight boarded, the two resolved to visit Greenland’s ice to sample its snow for soot, but as yet without any funding.