AUBURN — The Camden Conference was founded in 1987 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization whose mission is to foster informed discourse on world issues. Each year there is a conference, with hosting libraries offering community events related to the theme. The 2021 conference, “The Geopolitics of the Arctic: a Region in Peril,” will be virtual, live-streamed from the Camden Opera House, and will take place Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 20 and 21.

The Auburn Public Library will participate as a hosting libraries. Leading up to this year’s conference, the library will host three events. To register for any of the programs, contact the reference desk at 207-333-6640, ext. 4, or email [email protected] All programs will take place via Zoom, and on the day of the program, those who register will be emailed the link for the corresponding program.

Prof. Mike Retelle Submitted photo

“Environmental Research in the Norwegian Arctic” will be presented by Prof. Mike Retelle from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21.

Over the last 30 years, the arctic region as a whole has warmed about double the rate of the rest of the planet, and some sectors of the northern polar regions have warmed at even greater rates. Climate models predict this trend to continue into the 21st century. This phenomenon of an abruptly changing climate, referred to arctic amplification, is the result of interactions or feedback in the atmospheric, marine and terrestrial environments. Recent anomalous warming in the arctic has caused significant impacts on the cryosphere, or the frozen elements of the earth surface: glaciers, sea ice and permafrost.

The presentation will highlight environmental research in a glacier watershed over the last 15 years at 78o (degrees) North in the Svalbard archipelago, Norwegian high arctic. Warming air surface and ocean temperatures have limited annual sea ice extent, changed seasonal patterns of precipitation, caused deeper melting in permafrost and sustained recession of glaciers and ice caps in the region.

While these changes to the cryosphere at face value seem to be local and regional impacts, they have far-reaching effects in the global system that are experienced in Maine. Loss of sea ice changes the radiation budget of the planet. Permafrost melt releases greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and glacier and ice cap melt is causing a rise in global sea level. It has been recently been stated, “What happens in the arctic doesn’t stay in the arctic.”

Retelle is a professor of earth and climate sciences at Bates College. He teaches geoscience courses in earth surface processes and climate change. Retelle began working in the arctic 40 years ago as a PhD candidate at the UMass Amherst. His dissertation research focused on the glacial and sea level history of Northern Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic.

Since then, he and his students have taken part in field campaigns almost yearly in the Canadian and Norwegian arctic and high latitude North Atlantic region, investigating glacial and sea level histories and other aspects of high latitude environmental change. Retelle is currently leading a long-term monitoring project focusing on changes in a glacial watershed in Svalbard, an arctic archipelago that has been greatly impacted by the recent warming trend.

“Melting Ice — The Future of the Arctic”  Submitted photo

A film discussion on “Melting Ice — The Future of the Arctic” will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28.

The following is a description of the film provided by the producers:

“Climate change in the Arctic is fueling not only fear, but also hope. Sea levels will rise and flood many regions. But the melting ice will also expose new land with reserves of oil, gas and minerals. New sea routes are also emerging.

The melting of the ice in the far north has given reason for great optimism, as newly-found mineral resources promise the Inuit a better life. But international corporations and self-proclaimed ‘partners’ such as China also have their eye on the treasures of the Arctic. Some even dream of a polar Silk Road. As large corporations position themselves to exploit the treasures of the far north, the indigenous people, the Inuit, are fighting for their independence.”

Those who sign up to participate will be sent a link to view the film prior to the discussion.

“The Hidden Life of Ice: dispatches from a disappearing world”  Submitted photo

A book discussion on “The Hidden Life of Ice: dispatches from a disappearing world” will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4.

The book, by Marco Tedesco with Alberto Flores d’Arcais, was translated by Denise Muir, with a foreword by Elizabeth Kolbert.

“A pioneering researcher’s illuminating account of Arctic ice — its secret history and dire future. Tedesco unearths its secrets — from evidence of long-extinct “polar camels” to fantastically weird microorganisms living at freezing temperature in cryoconite holes — and weaves together the bald facts on climate change with poetic reflections on this endangered landscape, epic tales of Arctic explorers, and the legends of the rare local populations.” Provided by publisher.

The library does have free copies of the book available to the first 12 who register for the discussion.

For more details on the Camden Conference, including participating speakers, membership or other pre-conference events, visit

For more information on virtual programs at the Auburn Public Library, visit, call the reference desk (see above), or email [email protected]

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