Questions & Answers Wk 09

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Every week Team GoNorth! answers ten questions related to the module topic from student explorers -- so stay tuned and submit YOUR questions!

Great Question!

There is no magical age when a Polar Husky hangs up his or her harness. It is different for every dog.

For example, Lipton, Freja and Nazca are all 11 years old. They are brother and sisters from the same litter. In 2008 Freja and Lipton (at 9 years old) went on their last trip to Fennoscandia and then began their retirement. Today at 11 years old, Nazca is in Greenland with the other Polar Huskies.

At what age do the dogs retire?

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Both the phone and the Internet in Siorapaluk works via a satellite connection. There is one connection for the entire community so that means both delays in the phone reception and that you can tell if lots of people are trying to be online, or someone is downloading or uploading large files - because then the connection will slow down for everyone!

As for electricity, it is generated by a generator that runs on fuel. The fuel comes in by ship once a year when the ocean is ice-free, so it arrives sometime late June, July or August. 

Good observation on the cables and wires! Here in the high Arctic everything is run in pipes above ground so that it is protected from the harsh climate - and because it can not be dug down in the underground, the ground being permafrost with only a thin active layer. The active layer is the layer of dirt that actually thaws every year, the rest of the ground is frozen year round - thus the name: permafrost!

Make sure to check this weeks report for more on the challenges of not only powering up remote places such as Siorapaluk, but also building on the frozen ground - permafrost - in this polar desert environment!

We saw that the people in Siorapaluk use ice from a glacier to get water.  How do they get electricity, phone and internet?  Do they have cables and wires like we have?

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Mrs. Mottinger's Room

Polar Huskies are bred for what they are doing. They are Native to polar conditions (thus their name!) and we carefully nurture to keep their characteristics that enable them to survive and be healthy in Arctic conditions. That means Polar Huskies are burly dogs that cannot be sprinting all day or they will overheat. The trick is their double layered coat which covers all areas that could otherwise be exposed and prone to frostbite— including in between their paw pads, and even inside their ears.

We read the trail report and watched all the movies and pictures. During the storm condition delta did the Polar Huskies get frostbite?

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While in Kangerlussuaq we made the most of our time by exploring the town and the surrounding scenery. After exploring some of the souvenir shops and stores we decided to get a better perspective on the geology and arctic phenomena of the surrounding area. We set out on a short hike up a steep hill on the north side of town that provided a beautiful view and some needed exercise. The view was spectacular and gave us a peek at the Russels Glacier. This distant view was enough to set our plans for another day in Kangerlussuaq if the storm continued to rage in Thule. The storm continued, so on our second day in Kangerlussuaq we set out on a 20 mile out and back hike to Russels Glacier. We were out on the hike from 10AM to 7PM. The glacier was spectacular and we even spotted a small herd of Reindeer. To cap off our time the northern lights made an appearance on our walk back from eating dinner. It was pretty awesome to see the northern lights directly overhead stretching from horizon to horizon. Although we were delayed from the trail the side trip to Kangerlussuaq was a great experience.

What did Timmy Andrea and Brant do when they were in Kangerlussuak?

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It is tough to know what everyone else is doing on the military base because we are constantly in our own hanger preparing for our expedition. However usually at breakfast, lunch, and dinner we get to socialize with other people on the base. So far we have met some NASA researchers and even got to tour their DC-8 aircraft. There were many different types of lasers and high powered cameras on the plane. We got to get a close up look at the laser named LVIS. Also on the base there is a Thule Heritage Museum that has all the different equipment that has been used from the start of the air base, such as: telephones, computers, toilets, etc. Everyone at the base is very friendly and when walking or driving past someone a wave is exchanged with a smile. There is a fitness center and a community center here which we have been told many people go to work out and hang out. Maybe if there is time we will go check and see what those two buildings are all about!

What are people doing at the Thule while you are still there? Do you get to make friends the military people or is everyone working?

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At this time of year the sun never really sets in Thule. The only thing it does is dip down behind the ridge line to the north but the sky is still lit. We have not seen anything from the volcano in Iceland. Another reason that we have not seen evidence of the volcano is because our location is between the suns current course and the volcano in Iceland, therefore all of the potential for spectacular sunrises and sunsets is south of where we are.

Can you see anything from the Volcano in Iceland at the Thule air base during your sunrises?

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A glacier is a massive river of ice moving over land that is continues - meaning it is there all seasons of the year and year after year. Glaciers form when more snow fall and stay in a place than the amount of snow that melts in that place! An ice sheet is when an area greater than 20,000 square miles (50,000 square kilometers) is covered in glacier ice.

Greenland's ice sheet covers something like 660000 m² (1.71 million km²)! -- It is about 1500 miles (2400 km) long, at its widest about 700 miles (1100 km) and at average more than 6000 meters thick (2000 m)! Greenland's ice sheet holds enough ice to encase the entire earth to a depth of 17 feet (almost 6 meters)!

For a long while (we are talking more than one hundred thousand years) more snow has fallen on Greenland's ice sheet, building up the ice sheet and its glaciers, than what has melted off the glaciers. When snow and ice melts off a glacier its said to be 'calving.' Glaciers off Greenland's ice sheet calve into the ocean - they are calving icebergs!

In recent years the glaciers off Greenland are melting surprisingly fast. The area of the sheet that experiences melting has increased about 16%  from 1979 (when measurements started) to. In 2002 and every year since, the area of melting has been all record all previous records.

Did you know that glacier ice is the largest reservoir of fresh water on earth, and second only to oceans as the largest reservoir of total water on earth!

How many Glaciers form a year in greenland?

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There is a lot of work to be done before we can go on Expedition. It takes a couple of years from start to finish - so, as you can figure, we are working on more than one program at a time. Once an expedition ends in late May early June, we return to wrap up the program that just ended. We clean gear, fix what is broken and pack it all away. We make evaluations, talk to our sponsors, and make sure that the funding is secured for the upcoming program. Then, we set out full-force to get ready for the next program ahead. Plan the route (sometimes multiple route options) in detail, works on permits, visas, Team Members, etc. Resources are finalized for the website, and the writing of the curriculum begins. The Polar Huskies are cared for, trained, the list goes on and on.

It is something we plan for and work towards for years! But it is worth it, doing all this work and planning, so that you can explore the Arctic along with us (from the comfort of your cozy, warm, and dry classroom!).

Before you cuold go to Greenland how long had you been preparing for the trip?

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The Polar Huskies live outside so like other outdoor dogs, they do have a certain smell that comes with being so "close to nature." It is a smell that is unique to the oils on their skin and in their coats and we call it "smelling like a Polar Husky." There is no mistaking the Polar Husky smell and once you get a whiff of it, you forever know what it

The Polar Huskies get brushed as it is not good for their double coat to get matted and mother nature provides the washing/baths with rain. The oils the create the smell are vital for their fur to properly insulate and repel water. There are a few occasions where someone may get a hose bath or spa visit, but those don't happen that often. When they get a bath, the protective oils on their skin and in their fur are removed by the soap and it takes a while for them to be regenerated.

When in the Arctic, the winds blow so strong that it is like the Polar Huskies are brushed every day by the ice crystals combing through their fur. Their coats feel and look gorgeous on the trail and the cold holds the smell at bay... plus we kind of smell on the trail! :-)

[note from Education Basecamp: when Lipton retired and went to live with Tiffany and Jeff he went for a spa trip before coming into our house. We wanted to get the dirt off of him and also get him to smell like one dog instead of smelling like all 23 Polar Huskies back in the yard. Today he still has a faint Polar Husky smell... and he loves getting baths! His city sisters do not like baths at all.]

Do you wash the dogs? If no, do they smell? If yes, how and where do you wash them?

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Yes, Greenland is part of the continent of North America.

While many people think of North America as being the United States, North America is actually many countries and also the third largest continent on the planet!

Is Greenland part of North America or part of another continent?

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