Saturday, March 31, 2012

Finally Thawed Out!

Greetings from Annapolis, MD.  It has been two weeks since we arrived home from Barrow, and I apologize it has taken so long to get a wrap up together.  What an experience for everyone involved!  I mentioned to my students that working in the Arctic is an addicting lifestyle, and on our way home from the trip (and you can read in their blogs), you can see that it affected them deeply.  The environment is so different than any other on Earth, and so few people get to experience it.  It truly changes your life, and makes you want to keep going back!

It is very difficult to summarize our trip, without a VERY lengthy posting, so I figure I will do it over small installments.  I want to thank all the people on the BROMEX team, especially principal investigator Son Nghiem for inviting USNA and giving us the opportunity.  Also, the guys at UMIAQ (the logistics company in Barrow, made up mostly of native Eskimos), were top notch, and are driving the decision to attempt to get back up to Barrow every Spring Break for another 'midshipmen on ice' experience.  The scientists involved with the BROMEX team were all top notch, and treated as we were all on their team as well.  The 4 midshipmen, and other two officer, could not have been a better mix of people that all came together to really make the experience the best it could be!

I do not really have a favorite moment, because the entire trip was a nonstop blast!  We could not have done anything differently to make the experience better.  We were ahead of schedule, and even got to play a bit on the way home in Anchorage (skiing at Alyeska Resort in 40" of fresh powder!).  The sort of list of experiences that cannot be measured would go something like this:

Experiencing the people and landscape of Barrow, Getting on the Sea Ice EVERY DAY (and with the most interesting man in the world Tom D as our guide!), Cruising over the frozen Arctic Ocean on snow machines in -30 degree weather going 50 MPH resulting in a -88 degree windchill, Getting to deploy (sort of) USNA's first ever Arctic Buoy and watch it perform better than expected!, Setting up an acoustic array to collect some ground breaking science data, Collecting ice and snow samples for future analysis back at USNA, Taking tons of pictures one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth, Seeing the smile on the midshipman's faces as they treated the Arctic as their spring break playground (Who needs the beach when you can walk on the Ocean-Spring Break 2012, Barrow, AK), THE NORTHERN LIGHTS DURING A SOLAR STORM (from the Northern Most Point in the US multiple nights!!!), Our fun times in our 'hooch' Bancroft Hall North, Attempting to get under ice video with a 'non-waterproof' GoPro, Getting under ice video with a properly cased GoPro, Spending time at Barrow High School interacting with native kids and showing them some cool hands on science, Experiencing the great city of Anchorage, Thinking about redoing everything again next year with another group of mids!

Again, that is a short list, and I will hopefully expand on each of the topics over the next few days (and weeks!).  The USNA Polar Science Program is here to stay! 

I want to make a call to all teachers (thanks Kerri Pratt for the suggestion) both in the local area of Annapolis, and remotely.  Please use this site (or email me at with a list of questions that you would like my students to respond to.  The questions can be anything at all, from what the environment is like to what do you eat in Barrow?  Sort of like a virtual Q and A.  If you are in the local area and would like us to come by and give a talk, please feel free to ask!  We are preparing a sort of roadshow talk where we can share our experiences with others.

Thanks again for following and keep your eye out for exciting news in the future!

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