UW News

March 1, 2007

Talk to explorers, don mukluks, learn about glaciers at pair of polar events

The UW will launch International Polar Year with two events next week, a lecture that kicks off the series “Our Changing Climate: Polar Ice to Politics” followed by the Polar Science Weekend at the Pacific Science Center. Polar Science Weekend will feature interactive exhibits and a chance to talk with some of the nation’s top polar scientists, many of them from the UW.

NASA’s Robert Binschadler, leader of 14 expeditions to Antarctica and participant in many other journeys to glaciers and ice caps around the world, will speak Wednesday, March 7. In his talk On Thin Ice? he’ll consider the remote, icy places on Earth that have significance for the Earth’s climate, ecosystems and human society.

The talk in Kane 130 is free and open to the public. Advanced registration is requested; go to https://go.washington.edu/uwaa/events/200703earthinit_polar/details.tcl or call 206-543-0540.

The event is sponsored by the UW Earth Initiative, College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences, Program on Climate change and the alumni association.

For the second year in a row, the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) has teamed up with the Pacific Science Center for four days of demonstrations, exhibits and talks aimed at school children, families and citizen scientists interested in learning more about the poles. The event will be March 8-11; find hours and an agenda at http://psc.apl.washington.edu/psw/.

One highlight will be an ice station exhibit showing how researchers live and work on the shifting pack ice of the Arctic Ocean, according to Dick Moritz, a principal oceanographer with the APL and one of the key organizers of the event. Kids can try on mukluks and other clothing worn by researchers working in what can be some of the harshest conditions on Earth. Other exhibits include “Polar Expeditionary Art” with paintings and drawings from the Arctic and Antarctic, and a chance to turn your tongue into a salinometer and learn the difference in saltiness found in seas, lakes and oceans.

This event is the largest UW-Pacific Science Center partnership, Moritz says. Thirty staff members from APL and faculty and students from UW’s atmospheric sciences, aquatic and fishery sciences, oceanography and Earth and space sciences are donating their time designing and building exhibits and preparing talks. UW experts will be joined by those from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, the non-profit institute Earth and Space Research and personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star.

Other UW units planning events for International Polar Year include the Program on the Environment which is planning an arctic energy symposium for next fall to consider such things as oil resources in Alaska, hydro power in the Canadian Arctic and coal extraction in areas such as Spitzbergen.