Tom Paradise, University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Alberta, has been awarded a prestigious International Explorers Scholarship as part of the new partnership between The Explorers Club and Discovery Channel.
The Explorers Club is a United States-based international multidisciplinary professional society founded in 1904 that promotes scientific exploration and field study and has served as a meeting point for explorers and scientists from around the world. This unique collaboration with the Discovery Channel Networks was established in 2020 to support innovative field research that is both scientific in its contributions to science and educational to the public via multimedia offerings through television, radio and print media.
The grant was awarded to Paradise to support a team including American and Jordanian dryland geomorphologists, cartographers, climatologists, and petrologists to work among southern Jordan’s mega-dunes at Wadi Rum. Noted for its distinctive landscapes of towering inselbergs and vast dune fields, Wadi Rum is also a top filming location for blockbusters such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Martian (2015), star wars (2016, 2019) and Dunes (2021).
The Jordanian research project will examine, study and analyze the region’s huge sand dunes, which often exceed 200 meters in height and 1,000 meters in length. Unlike the larger compound and star dunes of the Sahara, these sand dunes, sand ramps and drifts are discrete and mobile, often shifting 100 meters during extreme weather events.
In addition to assessing Wadi Rum’s meso-climatology and extensive surveys, 300-400 sand samples will be collected along dune face transects for analysis in hopes of linking grain distribution to currents. of air, regional sandstone petrology, rock weathering and dune composition. – the first comprehensive study of its kind.
Scheduled for fieldwork in the summers of 2023, 2024 and possibly 2025, grant reviewers said they were “…delighted to fully fund this outstanding proposal, Dunefield Expansion and Climate Change: A Morphometric Survey of Wadi Rum, Jordan, after evaluating several grant applications – only a few have been funded. The proposed study was also described as “insightful and innovative, with proven field experience, a team publication record and prior multimedia experience.”
Emerald Nash, Director of the Explorers Club Grants Team, added that “The Explorers Club, in tandem with the Discovery Channel network, is delighted to have Professor Paradise on board as one of our fabulous new beneficiaries of the discovery.”
Paradise has extensive science television experience, having worked on scripts, maps, voice-overs and on-air commentary for eight television specials, including for National geographicthe Smithsonian Institute, PBS NOVA, Travel Channel and now International Discovery Channels. Additionally, Paradise has 30 years of research and fieldwork in southern Jordan, having published over 60 peer-reviewed articles, reports and chapters on geology, geography, history, archeology and the historic preservation of Petra and Wadi Rum. He is also completing his term as the American Institute of Archeology (AIA) Joukowsky Distinguished Lecturer for 2021-2022.
Paradise was a teacher in the Department of Geosciences at the U of A since 2000 and is the former director of the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies (2005-2010, 2015-2017). He was a Fulbright Scholar in Jordan from 1998 to 2000 and has conducted research in the Middle East and North Africa since 1990. Paradise continues to work as a geoscientist, Middle East field consultant, script consultant and cartographer for several film and television creators. , producers and writers on topics such as Jordan, the Levant and North Africa.