Weather and climate are often conflated.

For instance, in Iceland — where a University of Minnesota team traversed 137 miles on skis and snowshoes pulling pulks, or large sleds, brimming with high-tech gear, including drones — the most snow in 80 years fell during the expedition, creating challenges for the "Changing Earth" team.

Yet scientific data indicate, and indigenous elders confirm, that the Nordic nation's climate is changing significantly.

Iceland is a "canary in the coal mine," in ways both good and bad, U professor and Changing Earth team leader Aaron Doering told an editorial writer at the end of the expedition. The climate impact is dramatic, but so too is the response: Doering said that all of Iceland's energy comes from renewable resources.

But the global climate change challenge has locals lamenting that they aren't being heard, Doering said. "The people of the north constantly ask, 'Why aren't people listening to us? Things are changing.' "

Doering is listening —— and talking, to a global audience in interviews with CNN, the Weather Channel and other major media outlets, as well as to students, about what his team is learning in the Arctic and soon from upcoming tropical expeditions. It's all part of an effort from the University's Learning Technologies Media Lab, where Doering teaches.

"The ultimate goal is to let students experience the world without leaving their classroom," said Doering, a former high school geography teacher.

This kind of innovative approach to such a consequential problem is yet another example of how the University of Minnesota can have a profound impact on the defining issues of our time.