Mr. Harris and Dr. Geiger joined an international team of scientists on the SEDNA project, working north of Alaska on the drifting pack ice of the Beaufort Sea. SEDNA was an International Polar Year (IPY) project; the goal of the project was to develop a deeper understanding of how the atmosphere, ocean, and sea ice interact and influence the mass balance of sea ice cover. The results of this study helped researchers better understand the effects of climate change on sea ice cover, leading to better predictions of future changes and assessments of the impacts of these changes on regions and global communities. While in the field, the team took measurements on, above, and under the ice, and compared the ice thickness and distribution with data provided by satellites. Instruments placed on the ice collected and transmitted data via satellite, in order to track the ice conditions even after the science team had left the ice.
The team worked at a temporary camp established on the drifting pack ice of the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska. The camp was set up prior to the scientists’ arrival and consisted of a collection of insulated plyboard huts. At the end of the season the entire camp was dismantled and removed from the ice.
Robert Harris has been teaching high school science at Hartford High School in White River Junction, Vermont for 19 years. He has a Bachelors degree in Marine Biology and Environmental Studies and a Masters degree in Fisheries Oceanography from the University of Alaska, and has worked and traveled throughout Alaska, including work on various research vessels. Mr. Harris grew up reading the adventure stories of Jack London and Robert Service and dreamed of visiting the Arctic. The north still has a special allure for him and he was very excited to have the opportunity to return to Alaska.
Cathleen Geiger is an Associate Research Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Delaware. She has worked across the Arctic and has participated in nine high-latitude oceanographic cruises, using remote sensing and field measurements to study ice changes. Dr. Geiger's long-term research goals are to improve navigation in polar seas and assess the interaction and impact of sea ice on our world. Dr. Geiger hopes to develop a long-term outreach strategy leading to the development of research-related curriculum materials for teachers.