The Polaris Project participants hosted weekly webinars in preparation for their expedition. A public presentation given by Andy Bunn on climate change is now available in the PolarConnect Archives.
What Are They Doing?
The Polaris Project is an innovative international collaboration among students, teachers, and scientists. Funded by the National Science Foundation since 2008, the Polaris Project trains future leaders in arctic research and informs the public about the Arctic and global climate change. During the annual month-long field expedition to the Siberian Arctic, undergraduate students conduct cutting-edge investigations that advance scientific understanding of the changing Arctic. During the Polaris Project field course, students and faculty work together to study the Arctic as a system. Instead of focusing on a single question in a single ecosystem type, the group considers a range of questions across multiple components of the Arctic System including forests, tundra, lakes, rivers, estuaries, and the coastal Arctic Ocean. The unifying scientific theme is the transport and transformations of carbon and nutrients as they move with water from terrestrial uplands to the Arctic Ocean. They emphasize the linkages among the different ecosystems, and how processes occurring in one component influence the others.
Where Are They?
The research team traveled from the United States to Moscow, then on to the research station at Cherskiy, north of the Arctic Circle. Once at Cherskiy, the research team lived and worked primarily on a barge on the Kolyma River, one of the most remote rivers in the world. The barge provided a unique dormitory but also served as a mobile lab, allowing the team to tow the barge to various locations on the river for different studies.
Dr. Holmes is an earth system scientist with broad interests in the responses and feedbacks of coupled land-ocean systems to environmental and global change. Most of his current research focuses on large rivers and their watersheds and addresses how climate change and other disturbances are impacting the cycles of water and chemicals in the environment. Dr. Holmes has several ongoing projects in the Arctic (field sites in Russia, Canada, and Alaska) and has more recently begun working in Africa, Asia, and South America (Amazon, Congo, Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Yangtze watersheds). He has also studied desert streams in the southwestern United States, stream/riparian ecosystems in France, and estuaries in Massachusetts. He is strongly committed to integrating education and outreach into his research projects, particularly by exposing K-12 and undergraduate students to the excitement of scientific research.