Update

You can access PolarConnect webinar live events, including the event held by Peggy McNeal, here in the PolarConnect Archives

What Are They Doing?

Working around the glaciers of Kongsfjord, Svalbard
Working around the glaciers of Kongsfjord, Svalbard
The Svalbard Archipelago has an arctic climate and is home to several large bodies of ice— alpine glaciers in the mountains, and tidewater glaciers that descend into the sea. For the past 10,000 years the glaciers of this region have been receding and more recently researchers have noted a regional reduction in sea ice.

The research team, which includes undergraduate geoscience students participating in the Research Experiences Undergraduates (REU) Program, traveled to Svalbard to research how high latitude glaciers, melt-water streams, and sedimentation in the fjords reflect climate. The Svalbard region is ideal for the study of past climate because several different types of measurements on and around glaciers can be conducted there. Working out of small boats in the fiord and hiking to sites on land, the team collected data to determine what relationships exist between current sedimentation, glaciers, oceans, and climate. Using the historic sedimentation record can help the researchers understand and better predict how glacial systems react to climate change.

Where Are They?

The research base at Ny Ålesund, Svalbard
The research base at Ny Ålesund, Svalbard
The group flew via commercial airline to Svalbard, Norway with operations based out of a research station in Ny Alesund. Ny Alesund is one of the world's northernmost settlements and its population can swell to up to 120 people during the summer when research is being conducted. The team worked on and around the local fiord—Kongsfjord, and its surrounding glaciers. The Svalbard archipelago is situated in the Arctic Ocean, north of mainland Europe, approximately mid-way between Norway and the North Pole.

Expedition Map

Dates
-
Location
Ny Alesund, Svalbard, Norway
Project Funded Title
Svalbard REU: Understanding climate change in Tidewater environments of the High Arctic
Peggy McNeal - Teacher
Teacher
Los Coches Creek Middle School

Peggy McNeal began her career as an officer in the U.S. Navy. A lifelong interest in science sparked her drive to study oceanography at the United States Naval Academy, including shipboard research in the Makassar Strait. While earning a master's degree in geosciences, she studied atmospheric processes while storm chasing on the Great Plains. These experiences and her passion for science fuel her love of teaching. As a middle school science teacher for over a decade, Peggy enthusiastically leads her students through scientific investigations, hosts star parties, shares weather forecasting and teaches awesome stuff about the natural world. Outside of school, Peggy enjoys running, hiking and biking with her husband and three grown children. She can also be found behind a telescope looking at the universe, behind binoculars checking out birds, with a compass finding geocaches, at the yoga studio or with her nose in a book.

Ross Powell - Researcher
Researcher
Northern Illinois University

Ross Powell has been a professor in the Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences at Northern Illinois University since the early 1980's. His main research interests focus on processes where glaciers and ice sheets enter the sea, and his recent research has focused on Alaskan and Antarctic glacimarine processes and paleoclimate history involving underwater remotely-operated vehicles (ROV's) among other scientific tools. He has played a lead role in the ANDRILL (Antarctic geological Drilling) Program and the WISSARD program, collecting sediment cores for the first time from a subglacial lake in Antarctica—Lake Whillans. He has mentored teachers in polar field research through the Cape Roberts and ANDRILL programs in Antarctica and the Svalbard REU program in the Arctic. He is also periodically a guest lecturer at the University Center (UNIS) on Svalbard.

Julie Brigham-Grette - Researcher
Researcher
University of Massachusetts

Dr. Brigham-Grette's research interests are focused on the stratigraphy, sedimentology, and chronology of geologic systems that record the climate evolution and sea level history of the Arctic since the Pliocene. Most of her research program is aimed at documenting the global context of paleoenvironmental change across "Beringia", i.e., the Bering Land Bridge, stretching across the western Arctic from Alaska and the Yukon into NE Russia including the adjacent marginal seas. Starting in the 1980s with fieldwork on the sea level history and glacial stratigraphy of vast Arctic coastal plains and coastal environments in comparison with regional alpine glaciation, she is now focused on the integration of records from marine and lake systems.

Since 1991, her group has participated in numerous field expeditions to remote regions of Arctic Russia and she was co-chief scientist in 2002 of an expedition on the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy, taking sediment cores from the Bering and Chukchi Seas. She is the US Chief Scientist of the El'gygytgyn Lake Scientific Drilling project, a multinational field program leading to the first unprecedented recovery in 2009 of a 3.6 Myr record of terrestrial paleoclimate. She has previously been involved in the IPY STEM Polar Connections project to integrate the study of polar regions and International Polar Year activities into the middle and high school curriculum from the terrestrial Arctic.

Latest Journals

“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…
Kean Ivey, Virginia Tech About the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a 40,000-mile-long seam running across the world’s surface, like the stitching on a throbbing geophysical baseball, discoverer Marie Tharp said, “You can’t find anything bigger than that, at least on this planet.” We have our own bathymetry…
REU Svalbard 2014 The REU Svalbard 2014 Team shares favorite scientists. .be Who is your favorite scientist and why? Put your answer in the comments/ask the team section. Let us hear from you!
Calculating Speed Hei Hei! Dominique Seles Dominque has been measuring the speed of the subglacial currents in front of the glacier! Watch the video below to find out how. And no, you don't have to use the rest of her data to calculate the remaining speeds, but I will be using this later to…
You never really leave a place or person you love. Part of them you take with you, leaving a part of yourself behind. We left Ny Alesund today and have returned to Longyearbyen. We will take Ny Alesund with us and leave a part of ourselves behind. The view of "our" glacier from above in the…
Nothing Remains Quite The Same Barnacle Geese I was noticing the other day how much the little barnacle goslings have changed in the time that we have been here. It is remarkable! I took this picture of a Barnacle Goose gosling soon after we arrived. Just yesterday! The bird in the foreground…

High Arctic Change 2014 Resources

Overview

How glaciers in the polar regions respond to continued climate warming is of great concern. Changes in overall glacier velocities and calving dynamics have immediate impacts on sea level. Accurate predictions of how and when ice loss will occur are crucial to forecasting future environmental change.

Lesson
Arctic
About a week
High school and Up
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Overview

This lesson was designed to teach pre-service teachers an inquiry-based approach for a science classroom. To give context to the activity, I used my experiences as part of “High Arctic Change 2014” for a lab activity. As such, the activity focuses on discovering how glaciers are formed and flow and how icebergs float in water.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
High school and Up
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Overview

This lesson is based on studies completed by undergraduate geoscience students working around the glaciers of Kongsfjord, Svalbard during the summer of 2014. It is intended as part of a larger unit on matter that covers atomic theory, atomic structure and the periodic table.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
Middle School and Up
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Overview

This lesson is based on studies completed by undergraduate geoscience students working around the glaciers of Kongsfjord, Svalbard during the summer of 2014. It is intended as part of a larger Earth science unit that covers erosion, transport and deposition of sediment.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
Middle School and Up
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The report is written by teacher participants upon return from their field expedition portion of the PolarTREC program. It summarizes the benefit of the expedition to the teacher, a description of activities, and a summary of how teachers plan to link this experience in classrooms and communities.

Report
Arctic
About 1 period
All Aged
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