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Blue Dot: Mark Catesby in the New World and California's massive snowpack

Aerial view of the High Sierra snowpack in 2023.
Airborne Snow Observatories Inc.
Aerial view of the High Sierra snowpack in 2023.

Host Dave Schlom visits with author Patrick Dean about his new book, Nature's Messenger: Mark Catesby and his Adventures in a New World. Dean's book reveals that the 18th-century British naturalist, who preceded John James Audubon, recorded his observations in America of the stunning array of flora and fauna he found there.

Nature's Messenger: Mark Catesby and His Adventures in a New World
Patrick Dean
Nature's Messenger: Mark Catesby and His Adventures in a New World

An accomplished observer and artist who drew on knowledge from indigenous and enslaved peoples, Catesby then published his work in his magnum opus, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahamas. Catesby's pioneering work as a naturalist showed the interconnectedness in nature that would become the modern science of ecology.

In the second half of the program, Dave interviews Dr. Thomas Painter, Founder and CEO of Airborne Snow Observatories Inc. Painter takes the technology he helped pioneer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to new levels as his team flies aircraft armed with remote sensing equipment to accurately map the scope of California's snowpack, which took on epic proportions after a series of atmospheric river events in the winter of 2022-23.

Dave Schlom is the longtime host and creator of Blue Dot. From surfing to Voyager in interstellar space, rock guitar to orcas in our imperiled oceans, the topics on Blue Dot are as varied as the host’s interests and connections -- which are pretty limitless! An internationally respected space history journalist, Dave is also deeply fascinated by all aspects of the grand workings of nature’s awesome machinery on scales ranging from galactic to subatomic. And topics take in all aspects of the arts and sciences.
Matt Fidler is a producer and sound designer with over 15 years’ experience producing nationally distributed public radio programs. He has worked for shows such as Freakonomics Radio, Selected Shorts, Studio 360, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Takeaway. In 2017, Matt launched the language podcast Very Bad Words, hitting the #28 spot in the iTunes podcast charts.