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Norwegian-American Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica

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Become a Student Polar Researcher

Activities that students can do independently to explore the geography and physics of Antarctica. They are targeted for grades 5-8.

Teachers can contact polarpuzzle (at) for answers to the following questions.

A.  Scientists are investigating many topics in Antarctica at many different locations. Can you find answers to the following questions:

  1. How do the elevation, mean annual temperature, proximity to ocean, (etc) of Troll, South Pole, and McMurdo stations compare?  What is the distance between Troll and South Pole?  How big is Antarctica compared to the US?  How big is Antarctica compared to Norway?  
  2. Does proximity to the ocean affect mean annual temperature? Does elevation matter?  
  3. Use the internet to find information about other stations, like Wais Divide, Siple Dome, Taylor Dome, Dome C, and Vostok. Make a map of Antarctica and plot all of the stations on the map.
  4. Plot mean annual temperature versus elevation. What is the relationship between the two?
  5. If you were studying surface melt, which station would you go to? Why?

B.  Currently a team of Norwegian and American scientists are investigating climate change by making measurements along a traverse of East Antarctica. Our meteorological station will measure atmospheric pressure. 

  1. Why is the atmospheric pressure lower as we go up in elevation?
  2. What is the elevation difference between sea level and the highest point on the Norwegian-US Traverse? 
  3. What the pressure difference corresponding to that elevation difference?
  4. Is that pressure difference larger or smaller than occurs when a storm passes through?
  5. If you were on a submarine in the ocean, and you descended the same distance below sea level as in question 2, what would the pressure difference between the surface and that depth be?
  6. Why are the pressure differences in questions 3 and 5 different?

C. Who was Roald Amundsen?  What is different between his traverse and the Norwegian-US Traverse of 2007-2008? Write an essay comparing the two traverses.

D.  During the International Polar Year 2007-2009, scientists around the world are studying climate change.  What is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?  When was their latest meeting?  Name at least 3 important findings of the IPCC in 2007.  Cite the source for each piece of information.  

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