Seth Borenstein, a Washington-based climate and science reporter, exclusively broke a story with both irony and foreboding: Scientists who set out to study the impact of climate change on a massive Antarctic glacier are being largely thwarted because global warming has produced an iceberg and attracted sea ice, preventing the ships from reaching their destination. At least for now, the $50 million, multinational expedition is unable to reach Thwaites, the so-called Doomsday Glacier the size of Florida that is melting quickly.
COVID concerns meant journalists could not join at any stage of the expedition, but Borenstein was undeterred. Before the expedition began in early January he developed sources among scientists who would be aboard the boat, making it clear that he wanted to stay in touch by any means.
That source work paid off when New York University environmental scientist David Holland agreed to try a Zoom interview from the expedition. Borenstein and Climate editor Peter Prengaman worked with colleagues in Broadcast to ensure the best recording possible, and that interview was packed with news. The ultimate collapse of the Thwaites glacier, which could take hundreds of years, is “going to rewrite the global coastline,” Holland told the AP.
Borenstein also reached out to other scientists, both on the ships and following the research from afar, and he secured user-generated photos from the expedition, as well as a map showing where the expedition had run afoul of the ice.
AP’s Dave Clark designed a revealing interactive slider graphic that compares satellite images of Thwaites in 2001 and 2019. Meanwhile, London-based Siobhan Starrs oversaw an initial video edit; a consumer-ready edit was pulled from that. Environmental editor Tim Reiterman edited the text.
The all-formats package was used widely in the U.S. and overseas, including by organizations with their own robust climate and environmental coverage, such as The Guardian.