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July 14 Polar Mail

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What are the black spots on the ice at the bottom of the lake?
Ms. Marga McElroy's students
Negros Oriental, Philippines

Thanks for your question. The black spots are a fine dirt, like clay. The tiny particles were carried by the wind onto the ice sheet from many miles away. Since the dirt is black, it absorbs more heat than the surrounding ice, and melts through it, creating circular holes called cryoconites. There is also some ice algae on the ice sheet, and some of that is blackish in color, although the dirt is far more common.
Chris Linder

How did many of you become interested in this area of science? Your photos are thrilling to see and thank you for the daily log!

Sherri Bryant, science teacher
St Joan of Arc Catholic School

Hi Ms. Bryant, thank you for your question. I asked the scientists the same question a few months ago, and recorded their answers. Here are a couple of responses:

Sarah Das: I started out as a geology major in college, and that was partly because I was interested in studying the natural world. I also wanted to do something that allowed me to spend a lot of time outside, which I enjoy. When I was in college I spent two months with a field research project in Alaska. I traversed with skis and a backpack across an ice field the whole time. I did a little science project, some mountaineering, and I loved it. That was my first experience with glaciology. Having this type of expedition-based science experience influenced my career.

Kristin Poinar: I first got into glaciology by reading about it on Wikipedia. I was looking for something to study in graduate school. I knew I wanted to contribute, to find out more about the ice sheets, and how they move and affect sea level rise.

Find out more about each of the team members on our Scientists & Crew page.

Thanks for following along,

Amy Nevala