Aim of Sutton Grammar School's Coldest Journey Project
The aim of the project is to allow students to engage with the progress of the main expedition and to be inspired by the landscape, environment and research in Antarctica. We are aiming to conduct research of our own in parallel with the official expedition. We hope to receive information from the project that will enable our students to analyse groundbreaking scientific data at the forefront of cutting-edge science. We will be undertaking projects under the expedition's four research objectives. These wide-ranging headings allow for cross-curricular links between the expedition and many departments within the school and the students will have the opportunity to engage in activities from art projects to nutrition challenges and from digital mapping to chemical analysis. We will be documenting our work in a regular journal for pupils and parents. The expedition departs on December 6th 2013 and our project will begin shortly too. Keep a look out for information around school.
Project 1: Mapping the true surface-shape of the Antarctic Ice Sheet
Objectives: to map with centimetre precision the surface shape of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, along the 4,000 km expedition track, using GPS receivers and range sensors fitted to the Science Caboose. This high-resolution dataset will be valuable to key international environmental science efforts to monitor climate change-driven changes in the Antarctic Ice Sheet. These include the satellite remote sensing community e.g. Cryostat 2, IceSat (Ice-Bridge), who require a 'ground-truth' to ensure their equipment remains correctly calibrated, and the Ice Modeling community, who require profile data to allow them to develop better models required for predicting the future effects of climate change on Ice sheets (e.g. validation of ice mass balance models).
Cross-curricular links: Geography, Art, DT
Projects may include:
- using GIS (Google Earth) to create an accurate map of the underlying Antarctic land mass
- representing the Antarctic landscape artistically
- building scale models of the thickness and shape of the mass
Project 2: Identifying the distribution of bacteria in the cold
Objectives: to determine the potential diversity of extreme psychrophilic ('cold-loving') bacteria in Antarctic snow, and to establish a map of the distribution of bacteria across the Antarctic. The research forms the basis of creating a collection of Antarctic bacteria for conservation and biotechnological research purposes.
Cross-curricular links: Biology, Chemistry
Projects may include:
- investigating bacteria growth at different temperatures
Project 3: Determining the transport of moisture through water isotope analysis
Objectives: Two projects have the objective of highly sensitive isotopic analyses of water from samples of surface snow. Scientists can use changes in the ratio of oxygen and hydrogen isotopes as an indirect measure of large-scale patterns of Antarctic moisture transport (water movement from one geographic location via the atmosphere to another geographic location) and temporal changes in Antarctic surface temperature (e.g. comparing different years in the same location). These data provide valuable information about Antarctic atmospheric dynamics of water vapour origin over the oceans and how it is ultimately deposited as snow on the surface of the ice sheet. Monitoring changes in water transport are important contributions to models projecting climate change.
- understanding and recreating the atmospheric processes involved in moisture transfer
Project 4: "White Mars" Monitoring social adaptation in extreme environments
"White Mars" - Human Exploration Analogue Research
Objectives: Similarities exist between the conditions humans encounter on a winter Antarctic expedition and those found in space. The objectives of this project, which is made up of around 20 different components, are to examine the physiological and psychological effects of both acute, intermittent exposure to extreme cold and chronic exposure to loss of the day/night cycle, low oxygen levels of the Polar plateau and stresses of living and working in a small group in a hostile, threatening setting. The proposed studies include assessment of nutrition and hydration status, measurements of respiratory function and circadian hormonal changes, and monitoring of sleep patterns and the changes in mood and motivation.