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July 19 Polar Mail

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Hi Chris,
This question is actually not from me, but from Charity & her friends. They are neighbors of mine here & are first year high school students in Sibulan. The only ice here is in the freezer and never any snow. For their computer class they were supposed to find out about technology, any equipment used in a lab. What sample are you taking? Any analyzed in the field? What equipment do you use?

Marguerite K. McElroy
U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer
Negros Oriental

Hi Marga, Charity and her friends in a much warmer climate,

Thanks for your questions while we're in the Arctic. You may not have ice, but at least you have trees!

The scientists here aren't taking samples of sediment, ice, or rocks, but they are collecting data, which they have started to take a look at in the field when they aren't exploring. As for equipment, they do use a number of tools, including GPS, weather stations (to measure air temperature and pressure), and seismometers (to measure vibrations and other ice movements). Learn more about the equipment we're using in Greenland on the tools page.

Thanks for exploring Greenland with us,
Amy Nevala

Hello to all from Sunny Victoria BC Canada! Here it is sunny, but unseasonably cool, I wish summer would be here... hahaha so do you I bet! Maybe you' ve had warmer temperatures than us... hahaha!

I am immensely enjoying your expedition and reading of your other expeditions, as such, I have a few questions (questions and answers below).

Simon Schopman
Victoria BC, Canada

Dear Simon,
Thank you for your questions. Luckily we are getting lots of sunshine here, too. I'll address your questions (listed first below) with the help of Kristin Poinar, a graduate student studying glaciology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

My first question is really for those who have been on these expeditions before to the poles. Are you noticing large changes in climate conditions with respect to your local areas and prior knowledge of same?

I haven't been here before, but Ian and Sarah who are here for the third year, say that the temperatures and amount of ice melt are relatively constant (in other words, they aren't seeing a perceptible change).

Is it as bad as is commonly stated around the world in media? We hear on the news how it is melting, but can you actually tell?

I like this question. The media does tend to sensationalize the melting. The area where we're studying experiences about 5 feet of surface melt a year, making it easy to assume the ice sheet is disappearing at a rapid rate. But really, that melting ice is replaced by snow falling on the interior of the ice sheet. There definitely is a measurable net amount of melting. But we should understand that this combination of melting and snowfall has been happening on all glaciers for tens of thousands of years, regardless of climate change. The media needs to do a better job explaining the difference between climate induced changes and natural melt cycles.

How about cracks in the ice? I know there have been some very large breaks in the ice over the Beaufort Sea and Antarctica, is this a current concern for the Greenland shelf?

Greenland doesn’t have ice shelves.

I know the shelf breaking off "could" happen at any time, but my question remains as such, do you notice the changes occurring from year to year?

For Antarctic ice shelves, where they exist, it is less of a breaking off and more of a collapse. This happens in stages, not all at once. So over a period of five years you could see smaller collapses leading up to one larger collapse.

Also I have read that the ice is building up on the Eastern side of the Arctic and Western Antarctic, is this true for Greenland? Could a Pole Shift be inevitable?

As far as I’m aware, ice is not building up in West Antarctica. In fact, evidence suggests that it is losing mass rapidly.

Last one, with all the ice dropping in the ocean currently, how is this affecting the Salinity levels of the EAC? The weather in Greenland must be getting weirder than it is here in Canada.

Oceanographers are studying your first question. As for the weather, one Ilulissat resident said that she notices warmer summers, so much warmer that they have trouble sleeping. On the other hand she said last winter was especially cold.

Thanks for exploring Greenland with us,
Amy Nevala