SnowSTAR 2007 Image 5
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SnowSTAR 2007 (Image 5)

July 13, 2010
Snow and ice on Great Bear Lake. Situated on the Arctic Circle, the lake is the largest located entirely within Canada, with a surface area of 31,153 kilometers (12,028 miles). Measurements of snow and ice were taken from lakes and rivers during the SnowSTAR 2007 expedition. [Image 5 of 7 related images. See Image 6.] More about this Image In an expedition led by Dr. Matthew Sturm of the U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, a team of five Americans and three Canadians travelled on snowmobiles from Circle, Alaska, to Baker Lake, Canada, in March and April, 2007. The 3000 kilometer trip--called SnowSTAR 2007 (Snow Science Traverse--Alaska Region)--followed the Arctic Circle for much of the route and went through dozens of historic Arctic locations, two remote diamond mines and 11 villages, where team members had the opportunity to talk to residents. The goal of the trip was to "find" the Arctic; that is, to understand what makes up the modern Arctic and to explore what is changing in both the natural and human systems of this critical region. Along the way, the group had the opportunity to make the first set of comprehensive snow measurements across the Barrenlands, which will be used to investigate how best to use satellites to monitor the snow cover of the region. If scientists can understand the patterns of snow distribution and properties in the current climate, they will be in a much better position to model how this critical element in the Arctic landscape may change along with changes in climate. Scientists can trace the sources of the snow's chemical constituents, such as calcium, magnesium and various isotopes like boron and deuterium, and use the information to pinpoint where the snow originated and its atmospheric history. Snow data can also help show how key meteorological events determine snow characteristics. A key part of the trip was sharing their experiences and encouraging school kids across the North to share as well. The group brought with them, posters, photos and greetings from classrooms in the U.S., and shared these with classes in Canada. They also shared their travel experiences more widely via an expedition Web site and a book, to be published after the trip. The group also shared their passion for Arctic history. Their route was designed to pass through as many historic locations as possible, and they brought with them enlargements of historic photographs that they shared with villagers and placed on the Web site. From the trail, they posted dispatches, pictures and audio clips related to the history and natural systems. The expedition was supported in part by a National Science Foundation Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER), awarded by the Office of Polar Programs. Further information including an interactive map that lets you track the trip and read about and hear what the team experienced and learned, visit the SnowSTAR 2007 Web site. [Research supported by National Science Foundation grant ARC 07-00233.] (Date of Image: 2007)

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