Texas researchers and educators head for Antarctica

Aug 15, 2007
U.S. Icebreaker N.B. Palmer
UTSA sea ice expert Stephen Ackley and Boerne, Texas High School Science Teacher Sarah Anderson join 22 international researchers on a two month expedition of Antarctica. The section they will be exploring has not been visited at this time in more than 100 years. Credit: Brent Stewart

It’s been more than 100 years since anyone has journeyed to this section of Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea, but that is about to change. Next month five UTSA researchers and a Boerne High School science teacher will join a crew of 22 researchers from several countries to set sail on a two month expedition.

The trip, funded by a $533,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) research grant to UTSA, is designed to study the relationship of sea ice and the Antarctic environment. UTSA’s research team will depart Sept. 1 from Punta Arenas, Chile.

The expedition, sponsored by the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS), is one of 20 annual trips planned involving a teacher accompanying a research expedition. ARCUS coordinates NSF’s PolarTREC educational program, designed to bring educators and researchers together to explore, collaborate and experience life in the Polar Regions.

“We hope that once these teachers get this hands-on experience they will be better equipped to teach science in the classroom and convey their sense of excitement to their students, especially after going through this amazing experience,” said Janet Warburton, PolarTREC program manager.

Leading UTSA’s efforts is world-renowned sea ice expert Stephen Ackley, research associate professor of earth and environmental science, who has made more than a dozen trips to the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Ackley’s outstanding contributions to sea ice research were recognized in 2004 when the Antarctic geographic feature, Ackley Point, was named after him by the U.S. Board of Geographical Names.

“We are going to investigate the processes of how sea ice forms, moves, decays and interacts with the environment, said Ackley. “It’s highly exploratory and since the ice is so tightly packed this time of year, no one has attempted to travel this deep into the Amundsen Sea during winter since 1899 when the Belgica was trapped there. The sea was named after one of the explorers to survive that expedition, Roald Amundsen, who later made the first trip to the South Pole in 1911.”

Accompanying Ackley on the trip aboard the U.S. icebreaker N.B. Palmer will be four UTSA undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree students. The UTSA researchers will conduct numerous investigations including observing marine and mammalian life on and under the ice and determining how the sea ice interacts with the ocean and atmosphere. Joining the UTSA team will be 43-year-old Boerne High School science teacher Sarah Anderson. Anderson was chosen from among 150 educators that submitted applications to the PolarTREC program.

“I’ll be interacting regularly by phone and e-mail with my students so they will know about all the research we are conducting aboard the ship,” said Anderson. “I also plan on posting a journal online so teachers and students will be able log on and see notes and photos from Antarctica.”

The trip to Antarctica is the second one in less then a year involving UTSA researchers, last December UTSA assistant professor of earth and environmental science Hongjie Xie and doctoral student Burcu Cicek were part of a three-week international expedition of scientists and educators trying to determine if global warming was affecting the South Pole.

Source: University of Texas at San Antonio

Explore further: Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

9 minutes ago

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

1 hour ago

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

1 hour ago

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

1 hour ago

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Recommended for you

Six Nepalese dead, six missing in Everest avalanche

11 hours ago

At least six Nepalese climbing guides have been killed and six others are missing after an avalanche struck Mount Everest early Friday in one of the deadliest accidents on the world's highest peak, officials ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

(Phys.org) —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...