10 April, 2002
What a wonderful day we had! My Arctic mentor/colleague group left Vermont early in order to arrive at CRREL (the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory) for a tour at 9:15. We atarted by visiting Dr. Deb Meese, TEA Co-Principal Investigator and Arctic Program Director. We went right into a cold room where we saw a 63,000 year old piece of ice from a Greenland ice core. (Check out the pictures below.) The core, completed in 1992, went down 3,052 meters. By looking at the ice rings (each "doublet" of summer and winter rings = one year) scientists calculated that the ice at the bottom of the core is 200,000 year old! Everyone seems to talk of global warming these days. Did you know that 12,000 years ago the earth's temperatures shifted up by 7-15 degrees in a two-three year period? That shift has been documented in ice cores from all around the world, and scientists are attempting to find out why it occurred. In addition to analyzing past temperatures and climate changes, ice cores can be used in a number of other investigations. For example, scientists can trace the amounts of lead found in the ice in Greenland. Lead is not deposited naturally, but it began to accumulate once we began using leaded gasoline. When we stopped using leaded qas in the '1970's, the amount of lead in the Greenland ice dropped back to zero.
One interesting note from our visit to CRREL is that we found out that you don't have to be a Ph.D. scientist to experience the excitement of research in Antarctica and the Arctic. Many graduate students (think of disciplines such as geology, chemistry, glaciology, gas analysis)have the opportunity to travel with the research expeditions. Adiditionally, the research sites often need carpenters, mechanics, cooks, and others who are there to keep things running smoothly.
After our tour of CRREL and a quick lunch, we visited with Kevin Lavigne, Antarctic TEA from 2001. Be sure to check out his journals and photos on the TEA website. Kevin is teaching at Hanover High School where his students benefit from his amazing travels and research experiences. Kevin kindly spent his afternoon with us, talking about the research he did and answering all our questions about Antarctica.
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