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?

Sampling river waterSampling river water 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?

Kolyma River winding through northern RussiaKolyma River winding through northern Russia 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.

Expedition Map

Expedition Resources

Project Information

Dates: 26 June 2012 to 26 July 2012
Location: Cherskiy, Siberia
Project Funded Title: The Polaris Project


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Meet the Team

Mark Paricio's picture
Smoky Hill High School
Aurora, CO
United States

Mark Paricio is a national board certified science teacher at Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, Colorado, where his guiding principle is that "Science, like life, is NOT a spectator sport." Having worked as a chemical and environmental engineer in the nuclear industry prior to teaching, Mark stresses using a multidisciplinary approach to learning about and solving scientific problems. To this end, Mark has worked to create opportunities for his students to work with professional engineers to design sustainable buildings and communities, as well as to investigate alternative transportation issues. Mark teaches his students to view their world as part of the whole – and that understanding this system is critical if they hope to contribute significantly in their future. Mark is excited to bring the experience of his PolarTREC research expedition back to the classroom to inspire students to go out and pursue science in their lives and to make a difference. Mark is a past Colorado Physical Science Teacher of the Year. When not teaching, Mark is busy traveling with his family or enjoying hiking, skiing, or cycling in the Colorado Mountains.

Max Holmes's picture
Woods Hole Research Center
Falmouth, MA
United States

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.