Layer upon layer upon layer

Evidence of climate change is trapped “layer upon layer upon layer,” in ice and marine sediments, palaeoecologist Dominic Hodgson told me, when we met last week in Cambridge.

I continue engraving Perspex, drawing layer upon layer upon layer of images. The images are coming from dialogues I have with expeditioners, sharing what they’ve seen, heard, felt and measured in Antarctica.

The more I learn from listening to scientists, the more layers of meanings I see it is possible to reflect. The drawings in Perspex are my reflections, listening to what I’m told, of chemical changes in air, trapped in the bubbles of ice. Reflecting on the climate conditions, I imagine the life forms that once might have lived in Antarctica, in eras defined by the layers: diatoms, algae, and lichens.

Now I draw up a score for moving, drawing, and animating, based on the complex set of earth motion cycles that affect climate change: eccentricity, precession, and obliquity.


A friend’s response to some personal writing, strangely relates to this study:

It is amazing what re-writing does to a piece, how it shifts and changes the emotional passage through a life, how it focuses on subtlely different aspects, providing a better image of the whole.

Interestingly, the four stories together made me think of the work you are doing with Antarctic landscape – you were creating your own palimpsest of your life in the same way that, because of your work, Antarctica as palimpsest is visible/understood/seen. Each time you collect a new story of the landscape, a new vision and understanding of Antarctica is shaped. Just like your house story, it is not through one single image or story that the experience is understood, but through the collection, the build up, the layers, the retelling that an experience is shared – the focus shifts (none of the stories are forgotten because of the new telling) with each addition to the story being told, so the story itself becomes an experience.

Kathryn Yeo, Melbourne


Not only do we each see differently, but individually we see things differently at different times. Every time we tell or write about something we think we know, we say it slightly differently. Each time we can increase our understanding. And perhaps the reader too.

Also, there is no line between our experiences of the internal and external landscapes from which we gain our knowledge.

You may think these Log notes are written straight off, without any going back. But I write, and re-write, to reflect my understanding at the time. Another entry on the same subject, written at a different time, will be different, reflecting, an new level of understanding. In this way, layers of meaning grow.

Due to the multifaceted and complex personal nature of intentionality, the particular perception we have in a given moment will never exist again…

…all of our perceptual orientations arise out of an inseparable relationship between our bodies and our world. That is, there is no position which is not wholly dependent on the interaction between ourselves and all that is around us, – or all that we are within.

Kaylo, 2008; 2


In Dominic’s words, I have found the key text from which else can be hung: the natural pattern of recent glacial-interglacial cycles. This is a rhythm for moving, drawing, and animating a dance.



Carboniferous: the period of geological time between 360 and 286 million years ago, named for the thick deposits of coal found in rocks of this age. Forests covered much of the land during this time, the decomposition of which gave rise to the coal. See Geological Timescale.


Cretaceous: the period of geological time running from 145 – 65 million years ago. The name comes from the chalk which was the main rock type deposited during this period.


Geological time scale:

Geological Period
Time before present (millions of years)
Quaternary and Recent
1.8 to present
65 to 1.8
145 to 65
213 to 145
248 to 213
286 to 248
360 to 286
410 to 360
440 to 410
505 to 440
544 to 505
Precambrian Time
4500 to 544 million years ago
Timescale uses breakpoints defined in the USGS 2001 scale


Signals in Antarctica of past global changes: the last 10,000 years

Dominic A. Hodgson, Eric Wolff, Robert Mulvaney, Carol Pudsey, Steve Roberts, Claire Allen, James Smith and SAGES project partners British Antarctic Survey, NERC, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, England, CB3 OET

The Antarctic Peninsula (AP) is one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth with temperatures increasing at a rate of 3.4 oC century–1 (Vaughan et al. -1 2003). This rate of temperature increase is more than five times the global mean (0.6 ± 0.2 oC during the 20th Century) and has led to shifts in species distributions, catastrophic disintegration of ice shelves, accelerated discharge of continental glaciers, and the possibility of increased rates of global sea level rise. We studied the natural climate variability of Antarctica over the last 10,000 years, with a particular focus on the AP in order to better understand the significance of this abrupt climate change. We used palaeoenvironmental records from lake sediments, marine sediments, and ice cores to compare the present day warming with previous Holocene warm periods. Our research addressed the four questions described below.


Biography: Dominic Hodgson is a Quaternary Scientist at the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge. He studies environmental change at high-latitudes with particular interests in using microfossils, macrofossils, biogeochemical and sedimentological proxies in lake and marine sediments.