Pre-JIRP Readings and Discussion Questions

JIRP has rolled out some pre-expedition readings to students participating in the 2015 field season. We have heard from students in past years that they wanted more content before the season begins so we have answered that call and will be posting both discussion/reflective questions and details on student projects here on this blog. Over the next 11 weeks, students will be able to check here for the weekly post which will either pose questions on your readings or give you a detailed outline on one of six student projects on deck for this summer.

We encourage students to begin the process of engagement by participating in the discussion in the comment section. You will have a chance to ask questions of the Principal Investigators on the student projects and start learning from one another.

The questions this week are posed by two of our faculty and relate to your reading of Post and LaChappelle, Glacier Ice.  Students were asked to READ THE TEXT of this coffee table book.  

Our first set of questions are from Dr. Shad O'Neel. "Image 38 in Glacier Ice shows the 'three congruent glaciers'. We often talk about how climate is a principal control on glacier mass balance (glacier health) - aren't they supposed to be the 'canary in the coalmine'? How can the behavior in this image be explained? What is a less obvious control on the health of these glaciers? What are some other controls that may not apply to all glaciers but certainly produce examples that buck the mainstream trends?"

Our second set of questions are from Dr. Jeffrey Kavanaugh. "A defining characteristic of glaciers is that they move, slowly making their way down slope under their own immense weight. This motion is evident throughout the photographs presented in Glacier Ice and includes both viscous behaviors (where ice flows like a thick fluid) and brittle behaviors (where ice fractures like a rigid solid). What features visible in the photographs demonstrate these two forms of motion? Under what conditions or in what areas does flow appear to be fluid-like? Where do brittle behaviors seem to dominate?"

Photo by Ben Partan

Photo by Ben Partan

JIRP 2014: Kicking Things Off in Juneau, Alaska

By: Kirsten Arnell, Columbia University

The past couple days in Juneau have been fantastic. We had a couple lectures on Monday at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) campus to introduce us to the program, making us even more eager to get up onto the icefield than we already were to begin with. We learned how glaciers affect all branches of the Earth system and humans – climate, ecology, oceanography, and even economics, to name a few. These lectures were just a small taste of everything we will be exposed to over the course of the summer.

I have really enjoyed meeting all of the people. There are 36 students total on the trip, from all over the place. I have loved talking to everyone, hearing about their interests, learning about where they come from and what they study. A handful of us, including myself, have already found some crazy “small world” connections with others who are here.

Participants of JIRP 2014 at the University of Alaska Southeast campus. (Photo by: Alexandre Mischler)

I’m super excited to be spending the next two months with everyone on the icefield. I can already tell it is going to be a riot. The group dynamics are fantastic, and the people are so cool! I can really feel the mutual excitement about science and about being on the icefield. It’s neat to be part of a group of people with so many common interests – which have brought us together to embark on such a terrific expedition – but who are also quite different in terms of each individual’s particular interests, personalities, and backgrounds. 

I don’t think I’ve ever been part of such a group of people who are so similar to me in numerous ways. We’re all here because we love science, we love the Earth, and we want adventure on ice. Yet I know that I have a tremendous amount to learn from every single person on this trip, because we all have such unique sets of knowledge. As one Junior Staff Member said, with such a large group of people with their own particular interests, chances are we will have at our fingertips the answer to nearly every question or curiosity that arises, because someone in our group will know it. Without internet or much access to the outside world, together we will still be like our own walking “google” up on the Juneau Icefield. We are in this to learn together, and to share our knowledge with one another, and to do some incredible research. I can’t wait!