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.
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.
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.
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]
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]