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14 June, 2000

What am I doing in Greenland?

What am I doing in Greenland is a good question. I've written alot about the activites that have been going on but where's the science? After 5 days, we have finally assembled all our monitoring towers and they are all working. Why do we need these monitoring towers? Why Greenland?

Greenland's ice sheet plays a pivotal role in global climate, primarily because of its high reflectivity, high elevation and large area, but also because of the substantial volume of fresh water stored in the ice mass. Greenland's ice sheet mass balance may eert significant control over sea level rise (Steffen et al 1996). it is our job this summer to monitor these changes that have occurred during this season and set up a telemetry (computer linkage via satellite) that will transmit this information to main computers at the University of Colorado. If you are interested in following the weather patterns on the ice sheet, visit these web sites:

Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Home page (http://cires.colorado.edu/)

Cryospheric and Polar Processes at CIRES (http://cires.colorado.edu/science/cpp.html).

Program in Arctic Regional Climate Assessment (PARCA) (http://cires.colorado.edu/parca.html).

My job is to observe clouds every 3 hours, chart the cloud movement during this period, quanitify them so we can correlate their presence with incoming solar radiation and solar reflectivity. In other words, I will be a cloud expert. In my observation, I have seen some very strange phenomena. For example, imagine looking at the sun with a very light layer of clouds covering it. Now imagine a ring around the sun. This is quite common here but now imagine a second ring that is perpendicular to the first. This is strange. To make this a simple experiment, take your first finger and thumb and make a circle with the two by touching them together. Do the same thing with the other hand then have the two meet each other. Kids play this game by seeing who has the strongest fingers. This is kind of like a gyroscope effect (hey Eric). A very strange effect that a camera cannot even capture. I have come to appreciate the sky so much here.

Besse left today on a military plane. Besse is the other teacher in the TEA program stationed in Greenland. I will miss her a lot. Hope you have a great trip home Besse!

Thanks to all you folks who have read my journals and have emailed me. I really appreciate it.

Ciao, Cathi

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