The National Science Foundation (NSF) Rigor 1951762 Risk Assessment / Planning Call was yesterday. Our team participated in a call with risk management leaders from the NSF along with local community expert liaison from Utqiaġvik, Alaska. Now we are messaging back and forth to ask more questions. After realizing a bit more about just how remote we will be when flying the local SAR (search and rescue) helicopter out on the drift ice, approximately 50 miles from land to deploy environmental sensor buoys, I have asked for more training. Specifically I need to learn more about the following:
I have been thinking about the unforeseen advantages of having had to wait two years living through Covid-19 to be able to join the International Arctic Buoy Programme (IABP) science team on the Arctic Ocean sea ice. I was supposed to have deployed with them April 1, 2020 for nearly two weeks, and of course did not go due to stay-at-home orders.
It was during that time, the White House administration had also nearly erased ‘climate change’ from nearly all government agencies including the Navy, who is a key part of the IABP. Interestingly, I was informally told to refrain from writing ‘climate change’ and ‘US Navy’ in the same sentence in any outreach materials while preparing for the 2020 departure. Now, as you know, the current administration has ramped up climate change policy work and made it a priority, front and center. It would have been very awkward and a pain to have to dance around this if I had been doing outreach on a 2020 mission.
With these two years of staying home and staying local I have had a significant opportunity to work closely (virtually) with my science team teaching Arctic buoy STEM and polar expedition planning for high school Sea Cadets from across the USA. Through this experience I have learned a lot about the IABP as well as Arctic expedition logistics, and most importantly, I have had the opportunity to get to know my teammates Ignatius, John, and Cy rather well (at least through telecommunications). This makes me that much more confident and comfortable heading out to such a remote area, the Arctic Ocean, with a group of ‘strangers’ who instead have become friends.
Recently I realized that the 2020 deployment mission would have leveraged funding for most of our team from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). I as a PolarTREC educator would have been one of the few funded by NSF. After yesterday’s NSF risk assessment meeting I learned how much Arctic field training is readily available for civilian science teams and people like me which is greatly appreciated. I may be getting more access to Arctic field training now than I would have then which is great.
Finally, during the past two years my professional direction has shifted toward more climate change education which has afforded me some really neat opportunities. I have been leading and facilitating a Colorado Climate Change Education cohort in collaboration with Climate Generation. I am in the process of writing a climate change education professional development workshop curriculum. I have joined in advocating for effective just and accessible climate change education and empowerment with the US ACE Coalition. This led me to getting to attend the UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. And, now I am part of a science team that is responsible for the accurate observations of weather and climate conditions of the Arctic Ocean and making the real-time data available to everyone who can use it.
Perhaps now I am more prepared and even better positioned than before to join in this PolarTREC role with the IABP on the Arctic Ocean in March and April 2022 as well as into the future.
Follow Sarah's official PolarTREC Journals and Virtual Basecamp for the IABP AK Spring 22 Deployment
Engage with IABP AK Spring 22 Deployment Expedition