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What Are They Doing?

Working around the glaciers of Kongsfjord, SvalbardWorking 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, SvalbardThe 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 Resources

Project Information

Dates: 21 July 2014 to 20 August 2014
Location: Ny Alesund, Svalbard, Norway
Project Funded Title: Svalbard REU: Understanding climate change in Tidewater environments of the High Arctic




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Meet the Team

Peggy McNeal's picture
Los Coches Creek Middle School
El Cajon, CA
United States

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.

Julie Brigham-Grette's picture
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA
United States

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.

Ross Powell's picture
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL
United States

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](http://www.andrill.org/static/index.html) (Antarctic geological Drilling) Program and the [WISSARD](http://www.wissard.org/) 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](http://www.unis.no/)) on Svalbard.

Latest Comments

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Hi Willie! I loved it! It was the most amazing adventure ever. Thanks for checking in. How's high school?
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