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Airborne Survey Of Polar Ice Journals


May 1, 2012 Back in Washington DC

By: Tim Spuck
I’m back here in Washington DC completing my Einstein Fellowship, but continue to reflect on my experience in Greenland. My time in Greenland went by quickly, so I will continue to post journals about the IceBridge project in the coming weeks. I’m currently working on a series titled “The People of IceBridge”. The upcoming journal series will look at the various instruments on board the P-3 Aircraft and the people that make it all work. In my final days in Greenland I had the opportunity to interview many of the people involved with the project, and these video interviews will be part of the upcoming journal series. The people of IceBridge discuss their role with the project, and their own unique career path to get there, making the videos an excellent resource for students...

April 19, 2012 What Happens on a No-fly Day?

By: Tim Spuck
My teacher colleagues from Denmark and Greenland headed home this morning, and I was disappointed to see them go. It’s been interesting learning about schools here in Greenland as well as those in Denmark. Here in Greenland for example many students live in remote parts of the country. The total population of Greenland is less than 60,000 people. There are very few roads and no roads between the major towns. In the winter you can travel by snow machine or sled dog, and in the summer by boat if the community is accessible via water. Other than that you need to fly, and flying in Greenland isn’t cheap. For example Tom’s 45-minute flight round trip cost about $550 US dollars. From left to right Sine Madsen - biology teacher with an emphasis on Arctic climate change at the Building...

April 17, 2012 Glacier Running in Eastern Greenland

By: Tim Spuck
Image from the Helheim Glacier run this afternoon. Helheim in Danish means home of death. I'm sure it earned its name from the fate many met as they tried to navigate the waters in the region. Another great day with lots of new experiences on the NASA IceBridge flight. I was invited by the flight crew to join the pilots in the cockpit for takeoff, and of course I jumped at the opportunity. As a young child I wanted to fly more than anything except going to space. There’s just something about being in the air and taking it all in … seeing the big picture. As a kid I experimented with lots of different ideas trying to achieve this goal. I vividly remember those many failures … jumping off the porch roof with an umbrella … strapping on cardboard wings and jumping off that same roof...

April 17, 2012 Rare Views of Southeast Greenland

By: Tim Spuck
I only have a few minutes. We had to return early from our flight today due to an abnormal noise on the aircraft. The issue has been resolved and we are back out in 30 minutes. But here is a video from my flight yesterday. Can you recognize ant of the glacier features? More to come! View during my flight on Monday in southeast Greenland

April 17, 2012 More on Russell Glacier

By: Tim Spuck
As I write, we’re about 15 minutes away from landing after completing an 8 hour mission in southeast Greenland. I keep running the day’s images through my mind. I’ve seen so much today that I’ve never seen before, and for that matter I’ve seen things today that few people ever have. I’ve seen parts of our planet that I’m quite certain humans have never traversed. I’m flying again early tomorrow morning. More about this tomorrow evening! For now I wanted to share a bit more with you about Russell Glacier. The internet is rather slow here but I've managed to upload a video so that you can better experience what it was like at the face of the glacier. It's very noisy because of the run-off coming from the glacier.

April 15, 2012 Have you ever touched or eaten a glacier?

Russell Glacier
By: Tim Spuck
Sunday’s are down days for IceBridge Flights, so the team headed to the Russell Glacier ice cap about 10 miles east of town. With the dirt road half covered with ice and the other half puddles of water, it was the most bone-jarring ride I’ve ever had. But worth every bit of it to spend the day at the face (leading edge) of the first glacier I’ve ever visited. I’ll let the pictures below speak for themselves. Russell Glacier is what is referred to as a land-terminating glacier. Most of us are used to seeing video of glaciers with big chunks of ice breaking off into the sea. Because this glacier terminates on land it behaves a bit differently than one that terminates at the sea. It’s important for scientists to better understand the differences between land and sea terminating...

April 14, 2012 First Day in Kangerlussuaq (Kanger for short)

Kangralusak, Greenland
Cool and partly cloudy
By: Tim Spuck
We’ll be on the ground in Kangerlussuaq in about an hour. I look out the window and all I see is this featureless blanket of white. That’s Greenland down below. An Ice sheet nearly 2 miles thick. I woke up before 6:00 AM this morning to get ready for my 9:00 AM flight out of Copenhagen. Showered, packed, and had some breakfast at the hotel, and caught a cab to the airport. Everything went smoothly until I arrived at the ticket counter. I made it this far with my three bags, a larger suitcase, a carry on smaller bag with camera gear, a back-up computer, etc., and my main computer bag. It ends up that Air Greenland only permits you two bags one check in and one carry on. And the carry on needed to weigh less than 9 Kg. We had a problem, my main bag was already over weight, and my...

April 13, 2012 One Hour of Sleep in 34 Hours and Two European Cafe Latte

Copenhagen, Denmark
Cool with light rain
By: Tim Spuck
I had a long hot shower and an hour of sleep before I ventured out to explore Copenhagen this afternoon. My body appreciated the sleep and I’m sure the people next to me appreciated the shower. You saw a picture of me earlier before leaving DC … here I am after 34 hours and an hour of sleep in my 10’ X 15’ hotel room. (Hotel rooms are small in Europe.) I’ll blame the fact that I’m even alert to write this on the Café. Copenhagen is a neat city. The people are friendly and the food and beverages are incredible. I’d come back ☺ . It’s time for me to turn in for the night. A big day tomorrow … flying into Greenland! Can’t wait!! This photo is around the corner from my hotel. A typical scene in downtown Copenhagen.

April 13, 2012 Friday the 13th in Copenhagen - Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark
Partly cloudy and cool
By: Tim Spuck
It’s Friday the 13th and I’m here in Copenhagen, Denmark. A taxi picked me up at my apartment in Washington DC at 12:45 PM yesterday (Thursday) and brought me to Washington National Airport where I picked up a United Flight to Newark, New Jersey. For the record this is me just before that cab picked me up, saying goodbye to what has been a beautiful spring in Washington DC. Many of the trees are already in full bloom. But I’m off to a grander adventure in Greenland where the current high temperatures are in the low 30’sor upper 20’s and the lows have been down in the teens. DC has been the only bump in the road so far. We boarded the flight late, and then sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting to take off. It was a close call meeting my connecting flight at Newark Liberty...

February 13, 2012 Visiting the IceBridge Project at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Goddard Space Flight Center
By: Tim Spuck
Today I visited NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt Maryland and met members of the IceBridge team including lead scientist Michael Studinger, Education and Public Outreach officer George Hale, and Media Specialist Jefferson Beck. Members of the IceBridge Team. Left to right George Hale - EPO Officer, Jefferson Beck – Media Specialist, and Michael Studinger – Lead Scientist We had a lengthy discussion about the upcoming mission in Greenland. I’ll be flying into Kangerlussuaq somewhere around April 13-14 and will meet up with the team at the Kangerlussuaq International Science Support (KISS) building. Weather permitting, we’ll be flying daily missions up and down the Greenland coast with an array of sophisticated instruments measuring properties of the glacial ice...

February 7, 2012 Exciting Day at PolarTREC Orientation

By: Tim Spuck
Heidi Roop enters the Permafrost Tunnel. Tuesday was a pretty spectacular day at PolarTREC orientation. We spent the afternoon at the Permafrost Tunnel. What an experience walking back in time. I remember the tour guide pulling out a blade of grass from the tunnel wall; as green as the grass I mow each summer back home in NW Pennsylvania, but this blade of grass was different. It had been frozen in time nearly 20,000 years ago. It was then I started looking around me and realizing the incredible amount of biomass that has been locked up for many thousands of years. And permafrost (land that is frozen year round) isn’t just in the area around Fairbanks … it covers nearly 20% of the Earth’s surface. But the reality is that we are loosing permafrost each year due to warming...

February 7, 2012 Got Them! Those Northern Lights

By: Tim Spuck
It wasn't a great showing but patience paid off and a team of PolarTREC teachers ventured out in the early morning hours to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights! Northern Lights just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. Pretty spectacular to someone from the lower 48. Northern Lights just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska.

February 6, 2012 Day Two in Alaska

Fairbanks, Alaska
Clear and cold
Aurora Oval
By: Tim Spuck
Two days into PolarTREC orientation now, and gaining lots of great skills. I’m learning a bit about IPhoto, IChat, instant messaging using Meebo, and journaling through the PolarTREC site. Lot’s of new stuff and I’m already thinking about how these new skills can be used to significantly enhance the learning environment. I also attended a couple presentations about polar science in the Arctic and the Antarctic. From the Ice fish with white blood in the Arctic to the coldest place on the planet … the Antarctic with a record low temperature of -129 F … wow … that’s cold!!! The Polar Regions are amazing places. I’m learning to see these remote sites as indicators of the health of planet Earth, and the scientist who study them as terrestrial physicians … doctors for the planet … looking...

February 5, 2012 Head North ... to Alaska!

Glacier Near Anchorage
By: Tim Spuck
I just completed my first day of PolarTrec orientation; met lots of great people and had a fantastic learning experience. I’m thinking a bit about where I was yesterday … I left my warm one bedroom apartment in Arlington, Virginia around 6:30 AM for Reagan National Airport in Washington DC, boarded a nonstop flight to Seattle, then on to Anchorage, and then north to Fairbanks, Alaska. Just some seven months earlier I had been in Fairbanks visiting one of NSF’s GK-12 STEM Fellows programs at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. It was 70 F and I don’t recall it getting dark until well after midnight. But summertime in Alaska was quite different. From the air flying into Anchorage yesterday all I could see was rugged terrain blanketed by crisp white snow and ice. And by the time I...
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