Well, that was a somewhat protracted hiatus. I think my muse was in hibernation. In any case, she rose to the occasion when I defended my Ph.D. a couple of weeks ago, and here's how I summed up my talk:
“Measured and modeled albedos of sea-ice surfaces on the oceans of Snowball Earth”
A planet orbits round a yellow sun
Light years away or megayears ago
Its seas are dark, its continent is dun
But brilliant sea ice sets its pole aglow
Its CO2 drops dangerously low
Tendrils of ice reach from the polar caps
That sparks a feedback: oceans turn to snow,
Glaciers push in to close off any gaps
The oceans roiled with countless living cells
Who learned to take their energy from light
Now locked beneath the cold of Dante’s hells
They starve; how long must they endure this night?
Why has this happened, and by what device?
To know, we must investigate the ice.
As sea ice freezes, tiny drops of brine
Are trapped between the quickly forming plates
When cold enough, their molecules align
Into sodium chloride dihydrates
The solid crystals catch and scatter light
Reflect it back, refuse its energy
And I myself have quantified how bright
The surface of the sub-eutectic sea
And in our lab we’ve watched salt ice sublime
With instruments ingeniously designed
The secrets of another space and time
Unfold beneath my models and my mind
This is my work; I hope you will agree
That it is worthy of a Ph.D.