“Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.” ― Shannon L. Alder
Life outside the comfort zone
I'm on the last leg of my seven flight, four day travel back to San Diego which has given me plenty of time to reflect on this incredible experience. I want to give "the rest of the story". How did things end up? What were the results of the research? What about each of the students individual projects? I will do that below, but first, my own personal thought, lesson learned, or "what's the take away?"
Put simply, get out of my comfort zone.
That's it. Now, on to the students' research.
No, really there's more, but not much. Travel, take a class, try something new, meet new people, face my fears, take risks, make mistakes, push boundaries, get out of my comfort zone. It is the only way to stretch myself and grow. The benefits compound. The more I expand my comfort zone the more confident I feel to continue beyond.
Our planet is changing and we are changing it. I could say that I've been touched by the raw beauty of the Arctic, but I haven't been touched, I've been smacked. And I've seen dramatic change first hand. Confronting climate change is about changing our way of life. And getting out of our comfort zone.
Now, on to the students' research. They did an awesome job. I am so impressed and it was my pleasure, joy and honor to work with these amazing students. I learned much from them.
Courtney identified phytoplankton communities at several locations and depths in the fjord but in some areas phytoplankton was notably absent. Why? She will continue to address this question along with looking at the possibility that the observed changing plume dynamics are allowing growth and then shutting it down.
Steve was highly successful with collection of sediment traps in the south end of the fjord where he immediately noticed laminations in his samples at a rate of approximating one per hour. What is causing this? Steve deployed two hobos to measure underwater pressure with his sediment traps and will look at a correlation between the laminations and calving events.
Ryan noticed a slight max water temperature increase compared to previous years. He also noted that the bottom layer of water in the fjord is interacting more with other water masses due to possible later season variability or intrusion of warmer water from the ocean. He recognized upwelling signals in the water column before we saw effects visually. These observations will keep Ryan busy trying to understand cause and how they compare to the past.
On the last day of our research, Dominique had the opportunity to make measurements of a strong, but intermittent plume on the north face of the glacier when the ice miraculously cleared and discharge increased. This she will compare to her measurements of the southern plume and contrast current velocity, size and sedimentation source. Together with data from 2011, she plans to quantify subglacial discharge and describe how the glacier's hydrological system is changing.
Jessica filtered a plethora of water samples which she dried and weighed. Together with box core samples and till collected from icebergs, she will use column chromatography to separate the components of her sample and mass spectrometry to identify the isotopic signature. By looking at strontium and neodymium isotopes, she will identify current bedrock sources and how they have changed over time.
Kean was highly successful mapping areas newly uncovered by the retreat of Kronebreen and Kongsvegen glaciers and partially resurveying areas mapped in previous years. Back at school he will apply tidal and echosounder draft corrections, then merge and match the echo sounder and GPS data. From this he will compare his data to historical data in order to ascertain how the area has changed.
Ross and Julie are off to a professional conference in New Zealand. Their endless energy, encouragement, sense of humor and guidance is what kept this group going. And me? I'm off to Michigan to start a Ph.D. program in science education. It seems too trite to say that this has been an amazing adventure; words just cannot capture the experience. Thank you for connecting, your comments and questions and for sharing in this little slice of life.
Hugs to all-