I'm getting more and more excited about this upcoming trip to Alaska in early April. And I'm really looking forward to meeting the entire team and learning a bit about their experiences, interests, and why they too are excited about this adventure. I'm also interested in the same from the students (Sea Cadets and Naval Academy) who are joining this expedition as student perspectives never fail to impress me or open my mind to think about things differently.
Meeting with two PolarTREC alumni teachers last night, Andre Wille and Susy Ellison, my excitement increased. Listening to their stories of travelling to the Arctic and Antarctic, working with research teams, studying unique pieces of these places, adventures in camping in tents (in the Antarctic summer), and sharing their experience with learners in various contexts was inspiring and fun to hear about. Susy still visits schools on Antarctica Day to teach about polar topics. She also has figured out to get Antarctica cruise ship naturalist gigs. I think she has figured how to make the most of being a retired teacher.
I have never been to Alaska, let alone the Arctic. I have traveled all over the lower 48, but not much internationally. Being landlocked in the center of the country (Missouri as a kid, and Colorado as an adult), oceans are not my expertise. Yet every chance I have ever had to go to the ocean (I can count on 2 hands), I have taken the opportunity. This expedition is an opportunity to go to another ocean; now I’ll be able to say I’ve been to three oceans – that’s pretty cool!
What interests me most and what I'm most excited about is all that that I don't even know yet to be interested in and excited about. I believe there are a lot of things I don't even know I don't know about going on in the Arctic. This deep sense of curiosity and wonder is thrilling and exciting.
I would love to see a walrus and a polar bear. I would love to witness the native people's lives and language. I want to better understand how the Arctic Ocean truly affects everything in the northern hemisphere (if not the entire globe). I want to better understand each of the team members’ roles, expertise, and perspectives. I'm excited just as much about the team as I am seeing a walrus... well, maybe that's a stretch, but they are a very important part of this adventure. I've started reading Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez and A Naturalist's Guide to the Arctic by E.C. Pielou. Arctic Dreams is really good.
As I continue to learn about Utqiagvik, I have found the Sea Ice Webcam which is interesting to see what’s happening there in the last 24 hours. You can see even in late January they are gaining daylight hours (well, twilight so far). I've also been practicing my pronunciation of Utqiagvik (listen here).
I am also fascinated to learn more about the interaction of fresh water and Arctic Ocean sea water. As more fresh water (runoff and melting sea ice) blankets the ocean salt water it is apparently changing how ocean currents move and where nutrient rich fisheries are changing in location and richness. Stay tuned to learn more about this as I too explore this.
I want to learn everything; just as Dr. Jim Mead from my 2005 Grand Canyon Semester said as we left for the 18 day Colorado River trip “learn everything, and it will be amazing”.
PS - I'm making an Arctic Ruminations playlist of songs and poems on Spotify. Please recommend songs and poems in the comments below. I'm looking pieces that are relevant to the Arctic, so far I only have four. Thanks for your help on this.