High Arctic Change 2010

What Are They Doing?

The team traveled to Svalbard, Norway, located in the High Arctic, to investigate how high latitude glaciers, melt-water streams, and sedimentation in lakes and fjords respond to climate change. The Svalbard region has been marked by the retreat of glaciers, reductions in sea ice, and measurable warming throughout the Holocene period, and more specifically during the last 90 years. The Svalbard archipelago has preserved geologic records of climate change since the last ice age, which makes it an ideal location for this study.

In addition to two lead researchers, the research team was made up of approximately 10 undergraduate students participating in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Students’ defined their research questions and testable hypotheses throughout the program. The students’ research was aimed at understanding how climate influences glacial, stream, and lake systems in order to better interpret the sediment record of climate change.

Where Are They?

The team workied on and around the glaciers and lakes of Kapp Linne near their field camp at Isfjord Radio on western Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard island archipelago. The Svalbard archipelago is situated in the Arctic Ocean, north of mainland Europe, approximately mid-way between Norway and the North Pole. Svalbard is the northernmost part of Norway.

Expedition Map

Journals

Waiting at the airport at 4 am!
We woke up at 2 am to make our 4:30 flight. we have a lot of baggage and people so we needed to get there early. We will spend 6 hours in the Oslo airport before connecting in Reykjavik, Iceland and then on to Boston. Jeremy is staying in Oslo to vacation with his parents and Cara is going to London to visit relatives. We will be a small group of 8 traveling on to Boston. After working with a group of 14 all summer, 8 seems like a very small number. Waiting to get on the plane. Waiting at the airport at 4 am! Getting on the plane! view across the fjord from the airport. A last...
A town with a view!
Today is Sunday and we are in Longyearbyen. We woke up to falling snow and it snowed on and off all day. Al and Steve spent the day reorganizing the equipment for storage at UNIS to be used again next year. In the afternoon, we attended the presentations of the remaining students. The rest of the day we took care of errands and took some last pictures of the town. A town with a view! A walk through town with the snow covered peaks. We had a group photo after the lectures on the stairs at the UNIS facility. A group photo at UNIS We had a group meal together of at a restaurant...
Terra presents her reseach.
Our first night back in Longyearbyen proved to be exciting for all.  We all had meals and beverages of our choice and there was a gathering at UNIS for the students who are starting the new school term.  In spite of it all, six students gave their presentations today.  They did a very good job and will give this presentation to their advisors at their home institutions. Terra presents her reseach. Greg presents his thesis work. Andrew presents his thesis work. Berit presents her thesis work on Karst systems. Jeremy presents thesis work on sediment cores. Cara...
Polarcirket boat to take us to Longyearbyen.
The seas had calmed down enough for the polarcirkel boats to make it out to Isfjord radio to pick us up.  The boats are alot like zodiac boats except they have a hard plastic bottom and can fit more people.  They are small however and ride close to the water, so getting wet is expected.   All of our bags are either waterproof or covered in a plastic bag.   Polarcirket boat to take us to Longyearbyen. Lowering the boat off the dock. All hands on deck! Helping to put the boat in the water at low tide. The boat is almost packed. Just a few more people. People...
All dressed up and nowhere to go.
We were about to leave for Longyearbyen today until we were told that our boat, which was taking the 2 hours trip out from longyearbyen to Kapp linee had to turn back because of the high seas.  Of course, we were a bit disappointed but another day at Isfjord radio is a very desirable place to be stranded.  The students spent the day working on the final presentations which they will make to the scientific community at UNIS on Saturday and Sunday. All dressed up and nowhere to go. Just after we found out our boat was not going to be able to make it due to high seas. Wondering...

Project Information

Dates:
5 July 2010 to 17 August 2010
Location: Isfjord Radio, Svalbard Archipelago, Norway
Project Funded Title: The Svalbard REU - Holocene and Modern Climate Change Research in the High Arctic

Meet the Team

Cheryl Forster's picture
West High School
Salt Lake City, UT
United States

Cheryl Forster teaches Earth Systems and Chemistry at West High School, an inner-city school in Salt Lake City, Utah. She knew she wanted to teach high school students while working as a material engineer. She had the opportunity to help a local 4th grade class with their science fair projects and was inspired by the kid's excitement and energy for science. During her 20 years as an engineer in industry, she realized the need for more scientists and engineers and started teaching adults, then college students, and finally high school students. She teaches her students about the real world applications of science and how rewarding it is to work as an engineer, solving real-world problems through teamwork and innovation. Ms. Forster hopes to influence technically minded students to consider a career in science or engineering.

Ms. Forster received her undergraduate degrees from the University of Oregon in Chemistry and Geology. Her PhD is in Materials from Penn State University. Besides teaching, Ms. Forster spends her time with her husband and two teenage sons—skiing, playing tennis, hiking, and mountain biking.

Steve Roof's picture
Hampshire College
Amherst, MA
United States

Dr. Steve Roof is an Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Science at Hampshire College. Professor Roof's teaching and research focus on environmental issues such as climate change, pollution, and land conservation. He consciously integrates the scientific, political, and social aspects of environmental problems in his classes and projects. He teaches and supervises projects in geology, climate change, resource conservation, land use planning, geographic information systems, environmental chemistry, and the evolution of scientific thought. He and his students travel frequently to Death Valley and the Southwest for climate change field research. He also coordinates the Svalbard REU program, taking undergraduate students to the High Arctic. To learn more about Dr. Roof, please visit his faculty biography page [http://www.hampshire.edu/faculty/sroof.htm]

Al Werner's picture
Mount Holyoke College
South Hadley, MA
United States

Dr. Al Werner is a Professor of Geology at Mt. Holyoke College. His areas of research are in geology and climate change. As a kid he was told "not to play in the mud," but now he makes a living doing just that! Werner's fieldwork has taken him across the circumpolar world. He and his students conduct their research in remote locations—from Alaska to the Canadian Arctic to Spitsbergen, an island in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea—bringing recovered sediment cores from lakes back to the laboratory to learn more about past environmental change. To learn more about Dr. Werner, please visit his faculty biography page [http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/facultyprofiles/alan_werner.html]