What is IPY
Two months have now passed since the conclusion of the second IPY, Svalbard summer field school. The 25 students from 14 different countries enjoyed three fantastic weeks in Svalbard, learning about climatic and environmental change in the Arctic. Meet the participants and relive their adventures in the course movie.
After all the action the last few days everyone was planning on catching up on some sleep. But once again, the beautiful Svalbard summer night made the hours of sleep short and few. Still we managed to hide the worst yawning and enthusiastically absorb the morning lecture on marine biology in the Arctic given by Ole Jørgen Lønne.
After a sad goodbye with the amazing hotel at Kapp Linné, our trip went to the little Russian mining town called Barentsburg. The sun was shining and the sea was calm, so the boat trip was soothing and easy. Passing through the unique Festningen geological section by Grønfjorden we saw a hint of black smoke rising up from the chimney high above the rest of town. “Small smoke” as our guide explained later. There was a large ship docking at the pier, which apparently was the first ship to export coal since the fire broke out two years ago. Our guide, Vitaly, met us at the pier where he was more enthusiastic about Elise’s dog than introducing us to Barentsburg. Nevertheless, he was a great guide and we were moving through the town like a warm knife through butter.
Our foggy trip to Kapp Linné
A two hour boat trip to Kapp Linné meant it was an early foggy start for the group. After a very sunny weak in Longyearbyen we were disappointed to have ‘’fog, fog and more fog’’. For all we knew we were off to the North Pole. A slight swell meant it was a rather bumpy yet exciting ride with the zodiacs airborne off the larger waves. Fortunately the fog lifted slightly allowing the skipper to bring us in safely to Kapp Linné.
Permafrost to Mars, Bipolar Oceanography
Leading physical geographer Dr Hanne Christiansen presented an introduction to permafrost science and a review of current research. We proceeded to two sites where Christiansen and her collaborators measure solifluction – the movement of the active layer that arises from the seasonal melt/thaw cycle. We proceeded to have lunch on the sunny hillside underneath the old mining gondola towers whose foundations demonstrated the solifluction process. We then met a Portuguese team at the second site who talked to us about their work comparing the permafrost polygons in Svalbard with peri-glacial structures observed on Mars. Returning to UNIS, Dr Gammelsrød introduced Oceanography with several dynamic demonstrations that showed the plasticity of ice and the stratification of the water column during sea ice melting. A discussion on the Bipolar Arctic Thermohaline Circlulation (BIAC) IPY project followed. Several CTD and ADCP instruments were made available so that we could visualize the cutting-edge methods in the discipline. Another fine dinner awaited us at the SAS-hotel where we continued our conversations about polar science.
The day started off with two lectures on the Botany of Svalbard with an introduction to an IPY international tundra project, ITEX, run by Ingibjorg Jonsdottir. This project focuses on climate change and how it might affect the individual responses of plants. This was followed by an excursion to some of her study sights in Endalen. The experiments consisted of open top hexagonal chambers which imitate climate change by increasing the temperature by 1-3 degrees within the chambers. We also looked at the typical plants in the tundra environment.
The last two days have flown by; yet, at the same time I think it will be impossible to describe succinctly the amazing adventures the class has experienced in 48 hours. Not only have we sat through fascinating lectures and been guided through the Longyearbyen surroundings, but the cultural education one garners when 14 nationalities are brought together is staggering. Lunch hours are full of worldly tid-bits, and full-out squabbles over the origin of home-town slang. And of course, one cannot help but be absorbed by historical anecdotes (and perhaps one or two tall tales) of Svalbard and Norway as a whole.
But onto the science!
Monday 19th JuneHi everybody,
This is a blog from an expedition to the High Arctic island called Svalbard; the land of eternal ice. It is located at 78°N in the middle of the Barents Sea, and as far as we knew, no one had ever set their feet on this place before. After a rough journey across the sea, we finally spotted some beautiful mountains covered with ice and snow. Surprisingly, there were some natives here who actually appreciated our arrival. We were accommodated in some primitive barracks outside their settlement that we later got to know as Longyearbyen. This is a really weird place! The sun is actually shining 24 hours a day, so we couldn't sleep very much during the time we used to know as the night.
1) Preparations and Promotions for Oslo Science Conference
Distinguished speakers, awards, films, festivals, the best and most recent polar science and polar science communication - you will enjoy all this and more at the Oslo Science Conference. Please see the web site http://www.ipy-osc.no/ for the latest news and information.
2) Polar Information Commons
With the Polar Information Commons (PIC, http://www.polarcommons.org/), IPY has initiated a fast and easy-to-use open data resource accessible through normal search and browse tools. The PIC mirrors the “real” commons of the Antarctic (defined in the Antarctic Treaty) and responds to the common interests of humanity by serving as an open repository for scientific data and information about the polar regions and as a community-based infrastructure that fosters innovation and stimulates participation. In the PIC vision, investigators expose their data to the world and share them, without restriction, through open search and broadcast protocols on the internet. All PIC data carry a digital badge that denotes cooperation and expectations among providers and users based on open access norms and best practices.
We intend to demonstrate, in a hands-on fashion, the PIC tools, processes, and systems at the Oslo Science Conference and to allow interested users to badge and submit their data within the PIC system. PIC will serve as the centrepiece of an information commons area at Oslo, an area that will include polar graphics materials from IPO and from the Polar Unit of UNEP’s environmental information centre at GRID-Arendal, a display of the many books from the IPY Polar Books Project, complimentary copies of the new 'Polar Science and Global Climate' book from the IPY science communication community, and remarkable polar photographs from our frequent IPY partner Christian Morel. Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Norway, UK, USA - many partners contribute to the PIC processes and exhibits. Art students from the Netherlands have designed a 'Fifth Element' data sculpture - you will find the PIC displays under that rotating sculpture.
3) IPY Lessons Learned
With funding from an ICSU grant to IASC and SCAR, APECS and IPO have started a preliminary assessment of the IPY science communication activities. This initial one-year effort will not produce a systematic assessment of the IPY education and outreach impact, but it will assemble, in a timely manner, lists and inventories of the wide variety and mixture of IPY communication activities in order to extract some initial 'Lessons Learned', to identify key activities for continuation, and to develop a strategy and compile the materials for a subsequent detailed and rigorous assessment.
4) APECS Update
In March, APECS launched the new APECS Working Group Programme, allowing all APECS members to come up with a project idea, find colleagues with similar interests and create a working group to make this idea into something that can help shape the future of polar research. Four working groups have been formed so far: the Acronym and Definition Database Working Group, the Mentorship Programme Working Group, the Virtual Poster Session Working Group and a working group on “Climate change answers”. For more information please visit www.apecs.is/working-groups.
The Polar Policy Listserv was just established to help people from various disciplines discuss issues in political science, governance, law, international relations and all fields in between. Please visit http://apecs.is/mailing-lists for more information.
The APECS Mentorship Programme is attracting more and more mentors. This programme provides a great opportunity for experienced researchers and polar professionals to connect with their early-career counterparts. It also enables APECS members to seek advice and career guidance from people in their field and broaden their international connections. For information on this initiative, and to sign up as a mentor, please visit www.apecs.is/mentors.
APECS has relaunched its Field Schools Network website in an effort to share field school opportunities with APECS members. It also provides a platform to share experiences, feedback and photos from previous APECS participants for those who are considering attending a field school. More information can be found on www.apecs.is/field-schools.
Successful APECS Virtual Poster Session calls were held in March and April focusing on social sciences as well as education and outreach. The next call is planned for the end of May, with glaciology as a topic. For more information about the Virtual Poster Session calls, please visit http://www.apecs.is/virtual-poster-session. The
Arctic Science Summit Week 2010 in Nuuk (Greenland) in April was attended by Jenny Baeseman and Gerlis Fugmann. The flight chaos in Europe due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland turned this meeting into a very unusual experience for all participants. The mentorship from senior polar professionals to the 4 young researchers, 3 of whom were ‘stuck’ was absolutely incredible and we are very appreciative of their efforts to include us in this very important meeting. APECS, and young polar researchers everywhere, are excited about the IPY Oslo Science Conference.
There are many young researcher activities planned during the event so please visit http://apecs.is/oslo2010 for updates.