Welcome to the Projects feature of our website!

What are Projects?

Projects are a collection of PolarTREC expeditions that are related and/or share the same research project. The funding sources, title, and other parameters of the research project may change from year to year but the overall research focus is the same. These expeditions are often in the same location and involve many of the same team members over multiple years.

Why Projects?

We created Projects as a way to show the depth and breadth of the research that is taking place in the Polar Regions. It’s not often apparent that many of the expeditions are multi-year research projects. The goal is to showcase the on-going PolarTREC contributions to the magnitude of the science, in various aspects of the continuing projects. Projects that have had multiple teachers over time offer updated journal content, unique field experiences, and new learning opportunities every year. PolarTREC Projects content and related resources is a great way build and develop STEM curriculum in classrooms and communities. Projects allow users to learn more about the science and see all the teachers and researchers involved in the research project. View any project page to access the related project resources such as lessons, articles, presentations, and more!

Projects

High Arctic Change at Ny Alesund

Project Location
Ny Alesund, Svalbard, Norway
Project Funded Title
Svalbard REU: Understanding climate change in Tidewater environments of the High Arctic

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.

Weddell Seals in the Ross Sea

Project Location
McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Project Funded Title
The Cost of a New Fur Coat: Interactions between reproduction and molt in Weddell Seals in Erebus Bay, Antarctica

The team traveled daily to seal haul-outs and worked on the sea ice outside of McMurdo Station, Antarctica. While on the ice, the team located the seals, weighed them, measured them, collected blood and tissue samples, took thermal images of the seals, tagged them, and then left the seals alone until the next research season. When the team comes back following year, they re-locate the seals, re-weigh and re-measure them, collect the tags, and determine if the seals have pupped.

Tectonic History of the Transantarctic Mountains

Project Location
McMurdo and Mario Zuchelli Station, Antarctica
Project Funded Title
Deciphering the Tectonic History of the Transantarctic Mountains and the Wilkes Subglacial Basin

Antarctica plays a central role in global tectonic evolution. Competing theories have been put forward to explain the formation of the Transantarctic Mountains (TAMs) and the Wilkes Subglacial Basin (WSB), primarily due to a lack of information on the crustal thickness and seismic velocity of these areas. The research team is attempting to resolve how the TAMs and WSB originated and how their formation relates to Antarctica's geologic history.

Oceanographic Conditions of Bowhead Whale Habitat

Project Location
Barrow, Alaska
Project Funded Title
Annual Observations of the Biological and Physical Marine Environment in the Chukchi and near-shore Beaufort Seas near Barrow, AK

The research team worked out of Barrow, Alaska, at the juxtaposition of two Arctic seas; the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. It is a region frequently traveled by the endangered bowhead whale. This project had its genesis in understanding why the region near Barrow, Alaska has been a feeding hotspot for migrating bowhead whales. The whales and their prey will continue to be a focus of the team's interpretations.

IceCube

Project Location
South Pole, Antarctica
Project Funded Title
IceCube

How do you find something that isn't directly visible? That's the challenge faced by the team who developed the IceCube neutrino detector under the ice at the South Pole. Just as X-rays allow us to see bone fractures, and MRIs help doctors find damage to soft tissue, neutrinos will reveal new information about the Universe that can't be seen directly. The in-ice particle detector at the South Pole records the interactions of neutrinos, which are nearly massless sub-atomic messenger particles.

Historical Ecology for Risk Management

Project Location
Barrow, Alaska
Project Funded Title
Historical Ecology for Risk Management: Youth Sustainability (HERMYS)

Applied Research in Environmental Sciences Nonprofit, Inc. (ARIES), the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC), the North Slope Borough of Risk Management, and Cooperative Extension of Ilisgavik College collaborated to plan, develop, and implement a historical ecology model for the North Slope Coastal Region of Alaska. Historical ecology is an applied research program that focuses on interactions of people and their environments. Research applications involve studying and understanding this relationship in both time and space to gain a full picture of all of its accumulated effects.

High Arctic Change at Longyearbyen

Project Location
Svalbard, Norway
Project Funded Title
The Svalbard REU - Holocene and Modern Climate Change Research in the High Arctic

The research team of undergraduate geoscience students that participated in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program traveled to Svalbard and conducted independent research projects. Research focused on how climate influences the modern glacial, river, and lake systems, in order to better interpret the sediment record of past climate change.

Joint Science Education Project

Project Location
Kangerlussauq and Summit Station, Greenland
Project Funded Title
Kangerlussuaq Science Field School and the US Science Education Week

The expedition members visited several research sites in Greenland as part of an initiative to foster enhanced international scientific cooperation between the countries of the United States, Denmark, and Greenland. The expedition members spent several days learning about the research conducted in Greenland, the logistics involved in supporting the research, and they gained first-hand experience conducting experiments and developing inquiry-based educational activities.

Arctic Ground Squirrel Studies

Project Location
Toolik Field Station, Alaska
Project Funded Title
Collaborative Research: Persistence, entrainment, and function of circadian rhythms in arctic ground squirrels

In the Arctic, bright summers and dark winters are a fact of life and can lead humans to rely on clocks and routines to tell them when to eat or sleep, but how do animals function under these conditions? Circadian rhythms refer to the "internal body clock" that regulates the approximately 24-hour cycle of biological processes in animals and plants. Rhythms in body temperature, brain wave activity, hormone production, and other biological activities are linked to this 24-hour cycle.

NASA Operation IceBridge

Project Location
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Project Funded Title
Operation IceBridge

Operation IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever conducted. IceBridge uses a highly specialized fleet of research aircraft and the most sophisticated science instruments ever assembled to characterize yearly changes in thickness of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic. The research team experienced first-hand the excitement of flying a large research aircraft over the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Carbon Balance in Warming and Drying Tundra

Project Location
Approximately 8 miles off the Parks highway, near Healy, Alaska
Project Funded Title
Effects of warming and drying on tundra carbon balance

The carbon cycle is the means by which carbon is moved between the world's soils, oceans, atmosphere, and living organisms. Northern tundra ecosystems play a key role in the carbon cycle because the cold, moist, and frozen soils trap organic material and slow their decomposition. This very slowly decaying organic material has caused carbon to build up in the Arctic during the past thousands of years. Historically, the tundra has stored large amounts of carbon. Now warming in the Arctic is slowly causing the permafrost to thaw and the tundra to become warmer and dryer.