Submitted February 25:
A Wirral, UK, school student is about to set out on the trip of a lifetime to the Canadian High Arctic, as part of an International Polar Year science programme.
Emma Brown, a sixth-former at West Kirby Grammar School, will be joining a two-week international scientific expedition, which includes a week on board Canada's state-of-the-art research icebreaker, the CCGS Amundsen.
Emma won the chance to represent the UK on the expedition when she entered a competition run by the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory in Liverpool. Her presentation on climate change in the Arctic and her enthusiasm in wanting to help communicate the issues greatly impressed the panel of judges.
Emma said, 'I'm so excited about winning this trip - it's the opportunity of a lifetime. I'm very interested in geography and climate change, and in the Arctic I'll actually be witnessing the changes that are happening there, so that will really bring the whole subject to life."
Accompanied by her teacher, Mandi Szuplewski, Emma will begin her adventure next Saturday, 1 March, when the pair fly to Winnipeg, Canada. There they will meet up with the rest of the group, which consists of 12 students and teachers from Spain, China and the USA as well as Canada and the UK. Together they will participate in the Schools on Board programme, run by the University of Manitoba in Canada.
The international team of research scientists aboard the CCGS Amundsen will guide the student group in the many activities involved in Arctic climate change research. They will see at first hand how the science they learn in the classroom connects with the scientific studies being carried out. They will take part in laboratory and field work such as collecting ice cores and snow samples, looking at the microstructure of ice crystals and examining microscopic life in the salty brine channels that are present in sea ice.
Although the Schools on Board programme has a science focus it also includes visits to some of the Arctic communities. Emma and Mandi will interact with Inuit school students, community leaders, storytellers and policy-makers from Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories. They will be introduced to the Inuit culture and will find out how climate change has affected the people living and working in these communities. They will also get the chance to visit an Igloo church and experience dog-sledding.
Emma said, 'I'm feeling a bit apprehensive about meeting all of these people, but at the same time I'm looking forward to hearing their views on climate change and seeing how they cope with changes in their lives. I shall be taking lots of photographs and writing about what I see and hear for the school website, and I hope to share my experience with other schools too.'
Mandi and Emma went shopping last week to buy some cold-weather clothing to cope with the extreme temperatures in the Arctic. Mandi said, 'I think we'll be glad of the balaclavas and fleece-lined trousers as it's minus 35°C in Winnipeg at the moment so it will probably be even colder once we're doing experiments on the Arctic sea ice! This really is an adventure which starts with the trip itself as we'll be helicoptered onto the ship. I'm very excited about the whole experience of seeing some real science in action, talking to the Inuit people and hearing their stories, and we're both looking forward to the dog-sledding which will be another first for us.'
Andrew Willmott, Director of the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, said, 'We're pleased to help sponsor Emma and Mandi on this expedition as part of our contribution to the International Polar Year. In the UK we are funding increasing amounts of Arctic research, which is important as the year-on-year decrease in sea ice cover in the Arctic will have profound effects, both locally and globally, on climate change. The Schools on Board programme helps to raise awareness of the issues through educational science activities that are both practical and enjoyable.'
Funding for the trip comes from the University of Manitoba, Canada, with contributions from West Kirby Grammar School and the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory.
You can follow Emma's adventures in the Arctic by logging on to the Schools on Board website or via West Kirby Grammar School.
Schools on Board is an outreach programme of ArcticNet. It was developed to bridge Arctic research with science education. This is the first time that the programme has been opened up to schools internationally. Website: www.arcticnet-ulaval.ca
The Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory is a world-leading centre in tidal and storm surge prediction and is a leading European centre in modelling and forecasting coastal water environments. POL scientists are experts in sea level rise - predicted to rise substantially this century. It is one of the Natural Environment Research Council's (NERC) research centres. Websites: www.pol.ac.uk and www.nerc.ac.uk
NERC Press Office
Tel. 01793 411727; mobile 07917 086369
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Thursday, 28 February 2008 22:14
Arctic adventure for UK school studentWritten by Louise Huffman
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