Hi! My name is Ms. Harsh. Please join me as I travel to Churchill Canada to study climate change.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dancing Sky

Late last night , our friend Bill was dutifully the muffle oven and happened to poke his head out the door and looked up and saw the aurora The news quickly spread and soon everyone was outside looking up at the sky. Swirls of light danced across the sky. You could actually see the ribbons move. We watched in awe as one ribbon made a circle and continued to move until the circle closed. We watched the lights for about a half an hour until the clouds moved in and covered them. We then retreated back to our rooms with our check list complete. We saw the belugas, the polar bears and the now the northern lights. The phenomenon of aurora is an interaction between the Earth's magnetic field and solar wind.
Auroras are produced by the collision of charged particles from Earth's magnetosphere, mostly electrons but also protons and heavier particles, with atoms and molecules of Earth's upper atmosphere. These particles get trapped in the Earth's magnetic field . The collisions in the atmosphere electrically excite electrons to take quantum leaps (a mechanism in which the electron's kinetic energy is converted to visible light); and molecules in the upper atmosphere. Watch the video for an explanation of how the lights are created.

Today we spent another day doing basically the same procedures, except by now each team has a distinct plan and everyone has their own job. We are really getting pretty efficient now. Tomorrow is lab day. We will continue to check pH and conductivity. This information can give some indication about the climate in which it was formed. Today we took samples as deep as 2 meters! We hit permafrost at about 50 cm, then we had to drill down until we hit rock or mineral. This depth varies with the site. Today the last core sample contained shells. Think about this. We are not near the bay where we are. This section of the continent is rebounding. As you drive away from the bay, you will drive over many differenty beach ridges that were formed when that area was the coastline in the past. The ice was very heavy and pushed the continent down to the asthenosphere. Now that the ice is gone the continent is rising thus the coastline is changing also. This is called isostatic rebound.

Today I talked to a scientist who studies polar bears. He told me that the population here is doing fine, even though the population is down about 25 percent. He has been studying bears here for 35 years. The health of the bears will vary with from year to year depending on the thickness of the sea ice, the amount of food available. etc. He and his partner fly out in a helicopter and search for bears. When the find them they will tranquilize them, then drop down and take measurements and blood samples. The bear really do not migrate
except in the winter when they go out on the ice looking for food. A preganate bear will almost double her weight in the winter. We saw another bear today. It walked around on the rocks before it decided to go for a swim. The people here say that they often see bear swimming - like they are playing! .


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