Purdue Climate Change Research Center

Dispatches From The Ice: Dr. Kerri Pratt blogs from Barrow, Alaska during the BROMEX field campaign

ENGAGING LOCAL STUDENTS: Purdue graduate student Kyle Custard and postdoc Kerri Pratt, together with other BROMEX grad students, hosted a class of 3rd graders from the Barrow elementary school at the projectʼs tundra site.

From February through April 2012, Professor Paul Shepson’s lab headed to Barrow, Alaska for the NASA sponsored BRomine, Ozone, and Mercury EXperiment (BROMEX), an international, multi-year project studying the implications of Arctic sea ice reduction on tropospheric bromine, ozone and mercury chemical processes, transport and distribution. During the 2012 field campaign, Prof. Shepson, aircraft technician Brian Stirm, postdoc Dr. Kerri Pratt, and graduate student Kyle Custard conducted ground-, buoy-, and aircraft-based measurements.

Dr. Kerri Pratt, a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Polar Regions Research, documented their 2012 field campaign with detailed blog posts, maps, photos, and video clips (http://shepsonbromex.blogspot.com ). This incredible resource provided an opportunity for engagement with many audiences, including school-aged children who were able to follow along on their adventures and see what it's like to be a research scientist in the Arctic. Classrooms across the country emailed questions to Kerri, who posted answers on the blog. The fantastic questions ranged from “Do scientists have snowball fights?” to “How does the ice affect the gases in the air?” Kerri and Kyle also enjoyed describing their research to a Barrow 3rd grade class who visited their lab on the tundra (photo to the left).

Highlights from the two-month field campaign included: outfitting and flying Purdue’s Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research (ALAR) a twin-engine Beechcraft Duchess from West Lafayette to Barrow, and back; many nights of amazing views of the Aurora Borealis while working out at the tundra lab; learning about whaling from a native Iñupiat whaling captain; snowmobile rides onto the sea ice to collect snow and ice samples; flying over open leads and tundra on ALAR; watching beautiful sunrises and sunsets that moved drastically in time each day; and feeling what -30F plus a wind chill feels like.

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