Kangerlussuaq, August 4, 2011
If you crave a sliver of ‘hope’ in this time of disillusionment and insecurity, then you want to know more about the IGERT* group I met in Kangerlussuaq in Greenland this summer. I came across a group of young environmentally conscious doctorate students with strong ideological beliefs and intellectual capacity to divert our negative trends into a more positive future.
- IGERT group, l – r: Sam Fey, Marcus Welker, Nina Lany, Alex Lauder, Prof. Matthew Ayres, Ben Kopec, Prof. Ross Virginia, Thomas Overly
At KISS, Kangerlussuaq’s International Science Support Center, I met up with Prof. Xiahong Feng, Prof. Eric Posmentier and IGERT student Alex Lauder. They took me along on a Zodiak ride to measure, by means of studying Isotopes, how moisture evaporated from the Arctic Ocean contributes to precipitation in the Arctic Regions. The next day, Prof. Feng introduced me to her colleagues Prof. Ross Virginia and Prof. Matthew Ayres, who both teach at Dartmouth College in Hannover New Hampshire.
Matthew Ayres and Ross Virginia invited me to join their research camp about 20 miles outside Kangerlussuaq, close to Greenland’s Inland Ice Cap. Their campsite was set up along the shore of a small lake, a beautiful and pristine location and perfect for a base for their field research and hands-on sampling of isotopes, bacteria, micro-organism, soils and insects.
I was given a warm welcome by the professors and students, and was able to listen in on their lectures out in the field. At the same time the students let me film their individual processes involved with their research. I felt privileged to witness this young group of researchers, who displayed a healthy interaction, each helping the other with their process to reach their goals. It is through interdisciplinary exchange and dialog, from Isotopic measurement to soil samples and insect count, that these doctorate students hope to find answers to the new trends and consequences of the warming climate in the Arctic.
The young generation faces multiple problems that have accumulated globally in the last Century. Aside the political and economical challenges, the next generation has to redirect our perspectives on natural resources and create a sustainable balance that will secure a quality in life for billions of people. Through observation and dialogue, which was one of the objectives of this camp, our planet might be saved from destruction. Hanging out with the IGERT group for a couple of days was as much fun as it was inspiring and uplifting. Despite all gadgets and distractions we have at our fingertips in today’s time, it’s comforting to see awareness and interest in finding balanced solutions between government policies, economy and the environment.
Before their field camp in Kangerlussuaq, the IGERT students had a chance to go to Summit Camp, a year-round research station situated on the highest elevation point of the Inland Ice Cap. At Summit, the young researchers conducted their own ‘snowpit stratigraphy‘ to analyze the different layers of snow relevant to recent nuclear disaster from Japan and its impact on the atmosphere. The IGERT group’s next stop is Greenland’s capitol Nuuk, where they will meet with policy makers and will be given a chance to share their personal concerns about the enforcements of environmental laws.
I’m grateful for their dedication and for sharing their work with me on camera.
– Corina Gamma
* IGERT stands for ‘Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship’ and is an interdisciplinary training program of scientists and engineers, funded by the NSF (National Science Foundation).