It has been one week from our official return to the states and the return to 'normalcy' has been interesting. The midnight sun was not so bad to deal with sleeping-wise when you hike a minimum of 8 miles and are dead tired at the end of the day, however, when your days are not quite so physically intense and your schedule is not clearly outlined for weeks of predictability, darkness is a welcome forcer of circadian rhythm. This new environment offers a cell phone instead of a 30-06, a toyota with wheels instead of a 25 hp yamaha outboard, and my new classroom has 4 walls instead two mtn. ranges, a lake, and a glacier; this Maine is a strange place…
In this last journal I'd like to thank all those that made this expedition (in the truest sense of the word) possible:
Mike, Steve, and Al: Your commitment to science, your students, and the incredible REU project you've cultivated for what is now 10 years is incredible and will serve as a motivator for myself in education for years to come. I look forward to hearing of your future progress in Svalbard but also working with you here in the pursuit of all the data yet unarchived and explained here in the northeast US.
Sarah, Janet, & the PolarTREC program: Your support throughout this process has been invaluable and allowed me to stretch myself not only scientifically but extravertedly! Prior to this experience I never thought I would be one to post more than 10 words on the internet, let alone 40 journals. In addition, this experience in itself with all that I've been able to bring back (pictures, stories, data) will serve as an incredible asset to my classroom that I think about how to use every piece part everyday. Your program and your work are invaluable as far as I'm concerned…keep it going!
Hanne, Ole, Wes, Sara, and all my friends at UNIS: Thank you for sharing your knowledge, field areas, and brun ost and being welcoming stewards of your beautiful arctic archipelago. I hope to see each one of you again in the field.
Svalbard REU & AG212 Students: You guys rock. It has been great to already start hearing of you showing up in local newspapers and giving talks at your local schools so please continue to sound the rallying call for…outreach! Also, if you ever need a field assistant again you know where to call (bring chocolate).
Where does the road go from here? Though my time in the arctic has come to an end (for now), I plan to build off this experience in a number of ways. Folks here in my community can expect an overview evening talk on the Svalbard expedition and climate science in general in the coming month of September (date to be announced). I've got lessons in the works specifically on Svalbard glaciology & the 'little ice age' and another addressing data synthesis and climate reconstruction using a multi-proxy approach. I am thoroughly excited to have such an archive of real data to work with. More generally, I'd like to use this opportunity to offer up any resources to educators that based on my journals they think I may have and could put to use. I've got some 2,500 or so images ranging from glaciology, paleoclimatology, limnology, geomorphology, and quaternary geology just to start along with interesting data sets from a number of different types of instrumentation. The 'ask the team' feature can live on at dfrost [at] gocva.com for any that are in need.
As for right now, my sights are on completing some of the beginning of the year tasks that many teachers currently have on their minds: completing course expectations, remodeling and painting my classroom, designing curriculum for new courses this year, and finding new ways to improve those courses I've taught in the past. Just like reading those first articles on the history of Svalbard, these first steps have got me excited for the expedition ahead.
One more thing: thanks to all of the readers of this journal. You've endured pages of scientific terms, thoughts of shrimp flavored cheese-whiz, and my brutal sense of humor but hopefully found sound enjoyment and a new found sense of both Svalbard and the arctic natural sciences. If you'd ever like to join me in the field, just give a hollar.