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"Our real journey in life is interior"
-Thomas Merton

Hello! I live in the beautiful, tranquil, Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina. At the foothills of the mountains lies
Table Rock Middle School in the city of Morganton. Table Rock Middle School is part of the Burke County Public Schools. There are approximately 950 students at Table Rock. I am starting my fourth year here and I currently teach 8th grade Science. The school has outstanding network of students, teachers and administrators.

My heart lies in teaching Science. Science is a hands-on inquiry based subject. Students are actively learning throughout the year in my classroom. They are engaged in the learning process of Science. Students parcticipate in many active lessons throughout the year such as testing of local waters and a save the eagles project. Others activities involving students a Table Rock have been a school wide recycling program, Earth Day celebration, science fair and scientific research writing. I created Table Rock's 1st Science Olympiad team. The team won first place at the 2001 regional competition. I am also active in the community as serving on the Burke County Environmental Affairs Board. I believe in lifelong learning. I enjoy this learning experience with my students.

My love for Science and the outdoors began in the beautiful hills of West Virginia. I grew up in a small town called Lost Creek. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Education specializing in Biology and Chemistry from Fairmont State College. I received a research grant for two summers in which I conducted Molecular Biology research at West Virginia University. After moving to North Carolina and receiving a teaching job I earned my Master of Arts in Middle Grades Education from Appalachian State University. These institutions supplied me with the knowledge and the skills to be prepared in my classroom.

I enjoy traveling and numerous outdoor activities with my husband and two dogs, Sassy and Katie. The North Carolina mountains provide us with ample space to mountain bike, hike, backpack, run, fish, canoe and cross-country ski. Recently, I finished a two week 140 mile solo hike on the NC Mountains to Sea trail. A personal lifetime goal is to backpack in every state. I currently am in training for my first mountain marathon. Sassy, our black lab, has a favorite sport of swimming in the swift mountain rivers.

I am extremely excited and honored to be involved with the Teachers Experiencing the Arctic program. The Arctic has always been a childhood dream of mine to explore. I cannot wait to share my research experience with the school, community and state. It will be one of the most memorable and remarkable trips of my life. Students, remember you are one person and truly have the power to make a difference.

"When you reach the top, keep climbing."
-Zen proverb

Thanks to mountaingear.com and mountainwoman.com for providing cold weather clothing for April's expedition! Thank you also to Wicker's Sportswear and Outdoor Research for their support of April's expedition.

Snow, Weather, and Shrubs--Pathways of Change in the Arctic

Matthew Sturm, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab (CRREL)
Fairbanks Alaska

The air is crisp and cold, the night dark but alive with the aurora borealis this is the Arctic winter. I will be involved in a remarkable experience as I travel with Matthew Sturm and five other scientists on a northern Alaska traverse. The traverse will begin in Nome, Alaska on the Seward Peninsula and go to the most northern point in the United States, Barrow, Alaska. Snow machines otherwise known as snow mobiles, will take us over the snow covered tundra of northern Alaska for the 411 mile journey. We will be begin our travels on March 20 and end on April 24. The remoteness and wildness of the far North will clearly be remembered as our nights will be spent in pitched tents upon the snow.

Our purpose is to conduct scientific research. The project is actually part of an ongoing larger project to understand climate change in the Arctic called ATLAS (Arctic Transitions in the Land-Atmosphere System). The Arctic is a good place to study climate changes because changes are able to be detected there much sooner than other parts of the world. Climate studies have suggested that continued warming will be greater in the Arctic than the lower latitudes. The Arctic is often referred to as the "canary in the cage" because it may serve as an early indicator of climate changes that will affect the entire world.

On the traverse, we will stop at 100-120 sites where we will make numerous snow measurements. Measurements that will be taken are snow depth, density, stratigraphy and strength. Radar will be used to make a continuous profile of the snow depth and to display the stratigraphy. These measurements will be used to show a relationship between snow and vegetation in the Arctic and to delineate the regional trends in the snow properties. The snow measurements will be taken along the tundra-forest boundary between Council and Ambler, a small village on the Kobuk River. There are many questions related to this vegetation transition. One question to be answered is if a temperature increase is causing changes in the vegetation along this tundra-forest boundary. Air temperatures in the Arctic have increased 2 to 4 degrees C in the past 30 years. A result of the warming is an increase in plant production. An outcome of the increase in plant production would be an increase in the height and abundance of the shrubs. We will also be taking measurements along the tundra north and south of the Brooks Range. The tundra north of the Brooks Range is much less shrubby than the tundra of the south range. Snow measurements will be used to note any correlation between the regional and systematic differences in the snow pack and the two biomes.

Chemical sampling of the snow will also be conducted on the traverse. The sampling will used to determine the source of the winter precipitation, to note if there is a difference between the winter precipitation source for the Arctic slope versus south of the Brooks Range and if the precipitation source changes through the winter as the Chukchi, Beaufort, and Bering Seas freeze over. We will plan to sample for major ions such as Ca, Mg, and Fe along with the oxygen isotopes of O18, O16 and deuterium. An experimental sampling of boron isotopes will also be conducted if possible. These ions and isotopes act as tracers in the snow. They should let us know where the moisture of the snow originated and its atmospheric history.

Along the route, we will try to meet children in the rural Alaskan villages. The Alaskan children will communicate with children in the North Carolina schools. The children will be able to educate each other on their climate, region, habitat, and lifestyles. The children in the Alaskan schools will hopefully be involved in the data collection for the research. The children of the Arctic in turn will directly teach North Carolina children on how life and science is conducted in such an extreme and harsh environment. This will be an extremely fun learning experience for both groups of children!

Learn more about April's project at http://aeff.uaa.alaska.edu/snowstar/.

Be sure to check out the images in the journal entries!

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