TEA Explorer

G'day! My name is Jennifer Stewart. I am currently studying Chemical Engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. During the 1996-1997 academic year however, I am on exchange at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia. This enabled me to visit Antarctica over my "summer" break (seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere) without missing class.

During my junior year in High School, I had the opportunity to attend a National Science Foundation Young Scholars program at Purdue University. I studied developmental biology using zebrafish embryos. The next spring I was invited to attend a Department of Education/National Science Foundation joint conference to represent the Young Scholars. There, in Washington DC, I met representatives from the Antarctic programs who encouraged me to apply to go to the Antarctic.

I had a fantastic experience "on the ice" that I am delighted to be able to share with you. Antarctica is a continent unlike any other and the energy and excitement about the scientific research being conducted there was astounding. I learned about and saw field work in areas of science I had hardly heard of before. I have gained a whole new perspective on what research is all about. I have found, as a result, that it is difficult for me to choose one area of study - instead I want to take classes in all subjects =)! I also saw some of the practical applications of what I studied, which makes me all the more excited to learn.

As you read my journal, feel free to e-mail me any questions you might have. I don't promise great answers, but I will do my best to pass on this wonderful experience to you.

Measurements and Model Development of Antarctic Snow: Accumulation and Transport Dynamics
Investigator: David A Braaten
University of Kansas Main Campus

The research team I worked with is investigating snow accumulation and how the snow is transported. This research will help us understand how ice sheets grow, and, more specifically, how the Antarctic ice sheet is changing. This knowledge will help us predict how the Antarctic ice sheet may change in the future as our climate changes.

We used an instrument that automatically disperses tiny colored glass spheres onto the snow surface every 14 days. As the snow continues to accumulate, the spheres are covered. After two weeks more spheres are released into the air to fall on the snow. A different color is used each time the spheres are released. The spheres give us a time marker and tell us the wind direction. Later, we collect snow cores and look for the colored spheres so that we can reconstruct how fast the snow was accumulating between each layer of different-colored spheres. We also studied the sastrugi - wind-sculpted snow mounds - to see if they are created like sand dunes when wind blows the sand.

This is a multi-year project that will compare snow accumulation and wind-driven transport at several sites. Two sites are near the coast, where precipitation rates are much higher than in the interior of the continent. When the instruments are moved to different locations, one will be in an area of strong katabatic winds (density-driven winds that can blow well in excess of 100 miles per hour), and the other will be inland on the Polar Plateau.

Jennifer Stewart's Antarctic travels will start at McMurdo Station. From there, she will travel to more remote field camps.

December 1996

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November 1996

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