High Arctic Change 2014


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, 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.


Life outside the comfort zone
“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 story". How did things end up? What were the results of the research? What about each of the students individual projects? I will do that below, but first, my own personal thought, lesson learned, or "what's the take away?" Put simply, get out of my comfort zone. That's it. Now, on to the...
Kean Ivey, Virginia Tech
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 pro, Kean Ivey. The video below documents Kean's work in front of the Kronebreen/Kongsvegen glacial complex. http://
REU Svalbard 2014
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!
Dominique Seles
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 develop a lesson for students! Enjoy!
You can clearly see the north and central  sediment plumes in this picture.
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 plane after three weeks of study added to our picture of its dynamics. We have discussed its subglacial streams, how they bring sediment to the fjord and rise buoyantly to create sediment plumes. A curiosity has been the sudden activity of a plume on the northern end and the quiet, but older plume in...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

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

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.

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Latest Comments

I wonder if humans brains could be repaired after being damaged by strokes
Hi Willie! I loved it! It was the most amazing adventure ever. Thanks for checking in. How's high school?
Hi mrs.Mcneal! It's willie. I just wanted to ask how much you liked it?
Hi there, I enjoy reading all of yourr article. I like to write a little comment to support you.
You are very welcome, Ryan and I would love to return to Brooklyn Prospect. My daughter lives in NYC, so maybe I will! Thanks for following along.