Hi, My name is Mr. Green. Please join me as I travel to Churchill Canada to study Climate Change.

Friday, April 30, 2010

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wrap Up and Homeward Bound!

All Photos by Joe Carter Green, except where noted otherwise.

Dear Students,

Our final day of field work included more soil coring in the permafrost.

The tool you see in this photo is called the extended length coring tool. It took a team effort to finally core down to a depth of 2 meters! Another, thing, when permafrost cores are brought to the surface they give off a strong odor. The odor is due to the decomposition of the organic matter, and believe, me it is a funky odor!

Homeward Bound:

It is now time to say goodbye to the polar bears and eagles.

This expedition is ending... new friendships and memories have been made with my fellow teachers here.

During the trip, we gathered and processed over 200 soil samples and about 500 seedlings and saplings. Dr. Kershaw will share some preliminary findings at his last presentation right be
fore we leave.

So what, now what?

What a wonderful world we live in. Our Earth has so many beautiful sites and since this is the only ho
me we have we need to be aware of our impact and what the future will hold.

An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system. I was a small part of a project in a long term study of climate change at the Arctic’s edge. Dr. Kershaw’s research on the Arctic environment provides important data to understand the implications of climate change for natural and human systems.

Now it’s time I share what I learned with others. Upon returning I will be getting with students and tea
chers and we will be deciding on a community project for local action

As this experience in Churchill comes to a close I must thank many people. I will not mention names on the blog, only titles.

Special Thanks To:

My administration at Pope for giving me the time away from school at the beginning of a new school year. THANK YOU!

My substitute teacher who for the past eight school days has taken over my classes. THANK YOU!

My colleagues at Pope High School for your support.

To my family, for your love and support of my involvement in this journey. THANK YOU!

To my students, who I am sure you have behaved for your sub and for replying to my posts on this blog. It was nice to see your comments and questions. THANK YOU!


Some Closing Thoughts

My time here in Churchill is done. This has been a great experience, and I look forward to sharing it with my students, colleagues, friends, family and anyone who wants to listen.

However, this is just the start. Upon my return to school, I will work with my students, and we will continue on this journey together, with a goal to make everyone more appreciative of this place we call Earth. God has blessed us with a beautiful place to live, a place like no other that we are aware of. We must not take it for granted, we must not live in the present, we must think of the future.

The human mind can not comprehend geologic time, we can not imagine 500 hundred years into the future, much less 5000, or 500,000. There are things that we can do now to protect our planet for future generations. We must understand what we can do and take individual responsibility. There are things related to our environment and climate change that we have no control over, but there are also things that we do have control over in terms of protecting our environment.

A wise man is the man who plants a tree under whose shade he will never expect to sit. It is the same principal with our environment in terms of climate change. The actions we do or do not take today, will have benefits or consequences for our grandchildren and future generations.

Throughout geologic history there have been many changes to this earth and there will continue to be changes, some soon, others later, but the reality is there will be change. It is like we are on the Titanic and we know the iceberg is straight ahead and we are heading right for it, yet we have time to do something. The momentum can not be stopped on a dime. Do we make the necessary adjustments and just graze the iceberg, or do we do nothing and hit it head on? I prefer to just graze the iceberg.

It’s the little things that we all can do that make a difference.Do your part. Do not rely only on the actions of others to take responsibility for our environment. It is a personal responsibility that each person must embrace.

Climate Change and Polar Bears

Did you know?

Every fall, polar bears gather on the edge of the Hudson Bay near Churchill, Manitoba, where they will wait for the bay to freeze. Once frozen, the bay becomes a highway to their Arctic feeding grounds. But the ice is freezing later each year, and it's breaking up earlier - leaving the bears with less time to feed.

Today, Hudson Bay's polar bears have six weeks less feeding time than they did just 30 years ago. The result is that these bears are smaller, weaker, and the females are having fewer and less healthy cubs. Without more time on the ice, Churchill's polar bears are in serious trouble.

So what can you do to help???

Reducing carbon emissions is a good insurance policy for the health of our planet, not just for polar bears. Surf this site to learn more about polar bears, climate change, and many ways everyone can work together to reduces greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Inukshuks!! An Arctic Tradition

What is an Inukshuk ??

Driving into the town of Churchill we passed a large stone structure. It was a series of stacked stones. It’s a unique symbol that represents the traditional stone sculptures used by Canada’s Inuit people. In fact it is also part of the 2010 Winter Olympic design and can be found on lots of souvenirs and of all different sizes.

Inukshuk (singular), meaning "likeness of a person" in Inuktitut (the Inuit language) is a stone figure made by the Inuit. The plural is inuksuit.

The Inukshuk sculpture serve several purposes.

1. to show directions to travelers. (It's easy to get lost in the tundra!)

2. to warn of impending danger.

3. to mark a place of respect.

4. to act as helpers in the hunting of caribou. (The caribou see the Inukshuk as a symbol of man's presence, and often head for the valley where hunter's wait for them!)

5. some folks like to talk to the Inukshuk when they are all alone in the tundra! (t's a companion when you are way out in the tundra away from any humans.)

Similar stone figures were made all over the world in ancient times, but the Arctic is one of the few places where they still stand. You can make your own Inukshuk. An inukshuk can be small or large, a single rock, several rocks balanced on each other, round boulders or flat. They are typcially made with an odd number of stones like 7 or 9.

Our guide Paul said they usually use 7 stones to make them and he said when we traveled in the north a lot when he was young that it’s nice to come across them when you are feeling lonely.


Use the Flash link below to create your own quick Inukshuk!http://www.canadianencyclopedia.ca/images/inukshuk/game.html

Once you finish the Inukshuk game above, see if you can print it and place it into your journal. If it won't allow you to print, just sketch it into your journal and NAME IT!

ALSO, Go to Google and search for images of Inukshuk to get ideas. When I return we will have a lesson on Inukshuks where you can collect stones and build your own!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Arctic Wildlife!

Hi Students...

During my stay here, we are allowed one day off from our work. That day was Friday, 9-11. If you'll click on the slide show below, you can view some incredible wildlife we witnessed thanks to the help of our guide, Paul. We saw polar bears, beluga whales, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, snow geese, ravens, red fox, , a wolf, and lots of pristine scenery on a perfect day of crisp, clear weather.

But for now, it is back to work gathering field samples of soil and permafrost. We take the 150+ field samples and process them in the lab at night after a long process of measuring the samples and baking them to determine soil and organic matter content. It is a long and laborious task that requires precision. Collecting the field data requires dedication and hard work no matter what the weather or bug conditions may be. Thankfully, we had a gorgeous day on our day off for wildlife viewing. I hope you enjoy the photos.

After our day off on Friday, we worked all day and into the night on Saturday and Sunday to complete our field data collection. We collected over 180 soil samples from varying levels of the arctic tundra and permafrost. We were taught how to use a deep coring tool that took soil plugs from over 2 meters deep into the ground. Monday will be a full day in the lab to collate the data and organize it all in spread sheets for reading.

I will plan to post a short video from the head scientist here, Dr. Peter Kershaw. He gives a thumbnail explanation of how this type of data supports the evidence that climate change is indeed occurring, particularly in the Arctic. This whole trip has been an eye opening experience with long hours and often grueling schedules in all types of weather. Dealing with the insects has been one of the biggest challenges, although my gear has protected me well.

Stay tuned for more! See your Daily Discovery assignment below!

Viewing the Northern Lights!

Finally, the nighttime clouds cleared, and the northern lights were visible last night and again on Sunday night! Truly amazing! This is unique phenomenon found only in the extreme higher and/or lower latitudes of our planet. They do not occur every night, so when they do, it is really a special event.

For you DAILY DISCOVERIES today, go to this web site and answer the questions below. Enter the questions AND answers into your journal. http://www.northernlightscentre.ca/northernlights.html

#1: What are the northern lights?

#2: What is another name for the northern lights?

#3. What causes the northern lights?

#4. Where is the best place to watch the northern lights?

#5. When is the best time of year to view the northern lights?



Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday, September 10: More Diggin' in the Dirt

Dear Students,

Thanks for the Comments you posted yesterday! I have replied to most of them in the comments section at the bottom of yesterday's blog page.

Your 2 assignments are located at the bottom of today's blog page. Two cool videos to see!! But first, here is an update on things going on here with our Earthwatch Team.

The weather here is highly variable. The last couple of days were cold and rainy and then today it was warm and rainy. I decided that I like the cold and windy better! When it is cold and windy the mosquitos and black flies don't bother you, but as soon as the wind stops - here they come. We had to wear bug nets all day today! They obscure your vision somewhat and make it a little harder to get your work done.

Today we had our morning meeting and we discussed the days protocols and procedures. Our task was to go to several sites and collect organic matter samples and do a seedling survey of the areas as well. Our first site was called a FEN or wetland. As we exited the van we were immediately greeted by swarms of bugs-- black bugs, mosquitos, and bulldogs so we all donned our bug nets and proceeded with the days assignment.

After a short walk through a stand of trees, we proceeded through the standing water and you could see bubbles coming up in the water. Where do you think these bubbles came from? This were methane bubbles produced by anaerobic decompostion. We scattered out to pick random plots to sample.

We had a unique way of selecting our plots. You take your shovel and throw it as far as you can and where ever it lands that is where you dig. Our team dug three pits and took soil samples from 0-10 cm, 10-20 and 20-30 cm below the surface. We had to be very careful and make sure that everyone was following the same protocols. We had a special way that we have to label each sample- site name, group, date, and pit number depth. It is very hard to do all of this in the rain. We also have to take pictures with the information on a board. DATA, lots and and lots of DATA. We repeated this same procedure at another site called TIS- tree island. We actually found some seedlings here, they were but a mere 1 cm and they were 2 years old.

After getting the samples back to the station, they were weighed and placed in a drying oven to remove the moisture, then they will be weighed again. Next we will take a small sample and place it in a muffle oven and heat it to 675* essentially burning it. The ashes will be removed and then weighed and the carbon content can be determined. Dr. Kershaw wants to try to determine the amount of carbon in the peatlands that can possibly decompose and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We are studying the trees to see if there is any type of shift in the treeline- that could be an indication that the climate is changing. He did note that a tree found here, the poplar, is increasing in number which could also indicate that something is going on.

We had a great lecture tonight on Glacial Geomorphology- Extra credit if you can tell me what palsas, pingos and polygonal peat plateaus are. Try this cool web site to find out!


Help The Polar Bears!!!!

So far, we have not seen any polar bears. However, we are told there are everywhere and to beware. We hope to see some bears tomorrow on a guided tour during our only day off.

When cold temperature begin to return, the polar bears will soon start migrating back toward Hudson Bay because of the large seal population, their main diet.
Have you ever thought of how climate change, or global warming, could affect the polar bear population??? Well if the Acrtic ice decreases, the polar bears will lose habitat, and all sorts of other environmental factors are affected like the seal population which feeds the bears.

Polar bears are being challenged because the sea ice is disappearing. The polar ice is disappearing because of warmer temperatures caused by greenhouse gases caused by humans.

Next, PLEASE Go to this website: http://www.polarbearsinternational.org

This is the site called Polar Bears International. The researcher, Dr. Nick Lunn, you will see on the home page, is working on his bear research here at the Churchill Northern Studies Center. He has been tagging polar bears all week long, and has many interesting stories to tell.

Please open and view 2 cool videos on the future of the polar bear. You can access them at this link.
The videos may take a few minutes to download, but I hope you enjoy them.


These are two really good videos that really help explain the problems that polar bears now face.


Return to the home page of Polar Bear International. Take a few minutes and scroll through the tabs on this web site. You will be amazed at all the information on polar bears and things YOU can do to help them! Explore the web site. Next work with a partner and write this into your journal:

List 10 cool facts about polar bears that you learned from the Polar Bear International web site above. Click on ALL ABOUT POLAR BEARS, then click on BEAR FACTS. Check out the bear pics!

List 3 things YOU can do personally to help save the polar bears and ensure their environment is safe for the future.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

09-09-09!!!!!! Wednesday

Dear Students,

First of all, congratulations to Rachel in 4th period! She was the first to post a real question about what I am doing up here! Rachel receives 10 Boogie Bucks upon my return! 10 free points on any test or quiz! My reply to her is posted in the comments section. You can do the same, just by posted a real question in the COMMENTS section below!!

Students, the comment section at the end of each entry is for you to use! Try to think of something to ask that relates to topics like climate change, permafrost, forestry, the Arctic, wildlife, or the things that affect global warming. Comments are not posted until I review them here. Thanks for all the emails!!

Next, the first two students who can post their answer the Daily Discovery #6 will receive 10 Boogie Bucks and a free horticulture T-shirt! Go back to September 7 to see the question. How many technology items can you name that are in the photo below?? Send your answer in the comment section to me on the blog and you will win!

We have almost completed our data collection on the spruce tree seedlings. All the data has been entered into spread sheets using a Palm Pilot in the field. Today, we began taking soil core samples from different locations in tundra. We will carefully weigh each sample, then bake it in what is called a muffle oven to bake out the water content. Then we weigh it all again to determine the amount of organic matter in each sample. It's a long and labor intensive process. We gathered the soil samples today as we battled the rain and the very aggressive black flies. Here's a couple of photos of the hunt for tundra soil cores!

DAILY DISCOVERY #16: Go to this web site: http://nsidc.org/cgi-bin/words/glossary.pl
Here you can search lots of cool stuff, plus you can find the answers to Daily Discoveries #11 and 12! Scroll the whole site...it's really a "cool" site... no pun intended!

Go to: http://nsidc.org/cgi-bin/words/glossary.pl When you visit this site, you'll find some more cool stuff.

DAILY DISCOVERY #17: What is a glacier??? Why do they seem to be melting faster than they use to??? Go to the link on GLACIERS.

Name 3 famous glaciers in the world :
DAILY DISCOVERY #18: What is this land they call tundra??? Open the video below and name FIVE things that you learn about tundra. List them in your journal.


DAILY DISCOVERY #19 and #20:

View the slide show of photos below. Write down the common name and the scientific name of your two favorite plants posted. REMEMBER: Always capitalize the the genus (first part of the name) and use lower case for the specie name (second part of the scientific name.)