Climate Change at the Arctic’s Edge: Field Report Update#2

This may be the last update I’ll find time to post until after the completion of the research expedition. Things will be very busy from here on out.

The field work was delayed due to poor weather conditions, so yesterday was our first day in the field. Today the team had to stand down due to the absence of one of the lead scientists on the project, so it was decided to have the day be our one designated day off.

Tomorrow we will spend all day in the field, and will be our furthest venture from the research center to our sampling sites in what I am now calling the "Dread Sled".

At each site five teams of two or three people dig two snow pits to determine snow depth, layers (think of this in terms of the more familiar geologic layers) layer depth, the air temperature and at 5cm intervals in the snow cover, snow crystal identification, density, and hardness. Then 11 snow cores are taken with three of those samples saved for later processing in the lab. Finally, a "ram penetrometer" test is conducted. All the data is recorded in the field and then it is on to the next snow pit.

At the research center the data is entered into a master file for interpretation and analysis by Dr. Kershaw.

The final step is melting the three snow core samples and testing each one for conductivity and pH level.

It’s a full day and they’ll be even more so for the coming five until this round of research sample collection is complete.

This may help illustrate the sort of science that’s being conducted all over the world to determine climate and environemtal change. It doesn’t have the notoriety of many of the pundits on both sides of the issue, but it is ongoing and important work.

There are a plethora of little factoids spouted about all over the blogoshere in regard to climate change, most especially from deniars that have little understanding (or desire to understand) what they are talking about. It is probably best to leave the science to the scientists. Our job is to figure the best course of action based on what legitimate, thorough, and responsible science tells us.

I’ll check back in when I can with the latest update. Either from Churchill or upon my return to the US.

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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