Arctic research project is key in understanding climate change

By on December 21, 2011

For the past four years, about 20 college students and researchers have willingly spent their summer in Siberia. In fact, they asked to go there. These brave investigators are part of the Polaris Project where they research the little-studied arctic, including the effects of climate change. Polaris Project founder Max Holmes received funding from the National Science Foundation in 2008 for his “crazy” idea that trains undergraduate students to become leaders in arctic research.

“If you’re interested in climate change it’s essential to the story,” Holmes said. “By far, the warming is greatest in the arctic.”

Ancient carbon stores are locked up in permafrost which is frozen soil. As the earth warms, the carbon is released as a greenhouse gas which in turn leads to more warming in a feedback cycle. Much of the work done during the annual month-long project includes measuring carbon and monitoring water chemistry.

Image credit: Max Holmes, Woods Hole Research Center

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