Update

All PolarConnect Events Kevin and his team are available here: PolarConnect Event Archives!

This is the second trip for Kevin to Greenland! He accompanied Mike Bergin on an expedition to Summit in 2006. You can read about that expedition here.

What Are They Doing?

Aerosols are small, solid, particles like dust, smoke, and smog which are suspended in the air. Aerosols are generated by a variety of natural and man-made sources such as fossil fuel combustion, forest fires, and dust storms. Because aerosols have the ability to diffuse light coming from the sun, they may actually have a cooling impact on our Earth’s climate and the Greenland Ice Sheet.

In order to study the effect of aerosols on the arctic and the Greenland Ice Sheet, the research team took snow and air samples to measure the amount of aerosols. By looking at snow surface properties and chemistry the research team explored connections between aerosols and the snow surface albedo, or reflectivity.

The Greenland Ice Sheet plays a key role in regulating global climate. It also stores a large volume of fresh water. If it melts, it has the potential to cause sea level to rise. It is important to understand how air pollutants impact the climate of the Arctic, because changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet could affect places and people around the world. Better understanding the effects of aerosols would allow us to predict or adapt to some of these changes.

Where Are They?

The team lived and worked at Summit Station, located at the peak of the Greenland ice cap atop 3216 meters (10,551 ft) of ice. Summit is a scientific research station sponsored by the National Science Foundation that supports a diversity of scientific research, including year-round measurements of air-snow interactions that provide crucial knowledge for interpreting data from deep ice cores drilled both at Summit and elsewhere. During the summer months the camp is accessed via Kangerlussuaq, a small community located on the west coast of Greenland.

Expedition Map

Dates
-
Location
Summit, Greenland
Kevin McMahon - Teacher
Teacher
Renfroe Middle School

Kevin McMahon is a 6th grade earth science teacher at Renfroe Middle School in Decatur, Georgia. One of his main goals as a teacher is to inspire his students to become life-long learners. He hopes that the students leave sixth grade realizing that there is so much more to learn and understand than what is written in a science textbook. Kevin is very excited to bring this scientific research directly back to his classroom and community.

Michael Bergin - Researcher
Researcher
Georgia Institute of Technology

Mike Bergin is a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. His research interests include the processes that emit, transform and deposit particulate matter. He has travelled all over the world for his research, including Greenland, China, France, and Nepal.

Brandon Strellis - Researcher
Researcher
Georgia Institute of Technology

I grew up in a house, unlike my minimalist advisor, Mike, who was raised by a pack of feral wolves and only learned basic arithmetic as a teenager, but I do enjoy the outdoors. When I'm not saving the world one aerosol at a time, I enjoy baking and walking from one place to another.

Latest Journals

Our last day in Kangerlussuaq was exciting. We wanted to experience it all. Brandon got us dinner reservations for the Greenlandic Buffet at the RoKlubben Restaurant. We were interested to try all the unique Greenland delicacies and we weren’t disappointed. But, before I talk about food, let’s…
It was sad to leave all the friends we made at Summit Station but I am looking forward to heading home. Brandon Strellis, Kevin McMahon and Hannah James. Photo by Lance Roth. Hannah James Climbing Aboard the LC-130. Our first leg of our journey was to return to Kangerlussuaq. The plane was…
In today’s journal entry, I wanted to share some of my favorite photos that didn’t make it in my other journal entries. Did you know that scientists from other countries help each other out and share knowledge. Here is a picture of the flags of Greenland, the United States, and Denmark, Flags…
Once a week, the science technicians launch an ozone sensor attached to a helium balloon to measure the amount of ozone in the air. This sensor is called an ozonesonde. This week, our ozone sensor went up 20 miles (or 33 kilometers) into the atmosphere before it popped. All along the way, it was…
Wow, I am worn out. We did a lot of packing today. Much of the time we were outside digging up instruments out of the snow or putting our snow samples into ice core boxes to keep them very cold. The rest of the time we were inside with the heater cranked up so that we could remove all the snow…
Kevin McMahon holding the last snow sample of the season. Photo by Hannah James. Today was our last day of sampling. The weather was beautiful. I needed to take 5 snow layer samples today. After sampling, my fingers were quite cold. I did manage to find time to take a picture of Hannah and…

Atmospheric Conditions and Arctic Climate Resources

Overview

Humans are creative. They try to solve problems in original ways. For example, some scientists are thinking of ways to decrease the amount of greenhouse gases in the air. Other scientists are thinking of ways to limit the amount of sun that reaches Earth so that the Earth won’t get so warm. Like most ideas, there are pros (good things) and cons (bad things).

Lesson
Arctic
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
Download, Share, and Remix

Overview

Textbooks say that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and can make earth's climate hotter. Try this lab to see if carbon dioxide gas can really act like a greenhouse.

Objectives

Students should be able to make a hypothesis, perform an experiment, analyze data and write a conclusion based on the evidence from their experiment.

Lesson
Arctic
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
Download, Share, and Remix

PolarConnect event with PolarTREC Teacher Kevin McMahon and researcher Mike Bergin and the rest of the team working at Summit Station, Greenland.