Week 14 Qujanaq! (Thank you!)

Date Posted: 5.28.2010
Location: 44º54'N 92º47'W
Expedition Basecamp, USA
Weather Conditions: Sunny, 87ºF (30ºC)
The sight of hunters returning from the hunt with their dogs pulling huge sleds loaded with walrus meat. The sound of icebergs in the making as glacier ice crashes into the sea. The taste of deepwater shrimp, narwhal soup, and salty licorice. The sensation of breathing crystals in the air more than 8,000 feet above sea level as the sleds and Polar Huskies keep climbing up, up, up. The smell of dried fish, meats, and musk ox skin strung out to dry. The feel of ice formed by snow

  Watch the Polar Huskies and Mille's
  last ride on Greenland’s ice sheet!
falling onto the ice sheet more than 40,000 years ago. Today, the Polar Huskies are back at Expedition Basecamp in the United States, digging holes to escape hot and humid temperatures so far from Greenland’s cool ice sheet where they were curling up just days ago, but the profound impressions and experiences of Greenland will not be soon forgotten.

5th grade student explorer sharing her work!  
Mille smiles, “Frankly not a camp site, not a community, no house or cabin with an open door we have been so fortunate to enter around the circumpolar Arctic will ever be forgotten. GoNorth! Greenland 2010 coming to an end wraps up our journey around the circumpolar north over the last five years, and I have such tremendous gratitude to everyone along our way that it simply takes my breath away. It is, of course, not the end of the adventure, but I admit it’s a major milestone to me and its one to really make me appreciate what matters everything to me: howling Polar Huskies waking me up on frosty mornings, the smell of our stove in the tent, gliding across the snow looking into the far horizon, sharing the day’s experiences with my partner over that first cup of tea after a long hard day, knowing we have millions of students around the world exploring alongside us—all these things, to me, are being alive!” she laughs.

2010 Zone Post: Climate Change in Ilulissat:  Out there on the trail we all love getting notes from everyone in the Send-A-Note section but the favorite part of the site is without a doubt the Zones, exploring the postings of students from around the world! Check out this powerpoint presentation posted to the Climate Zone by Ms Neilsen's Class at Mathias Storch School in Ilulissat, Greenland– one of the winners in this year’s zone contest!

       The trench tent at NEEM where science takes
     place deep below the ice sheet's surface.

If in doubt about just how cool and amazing it is to be in the Arctic, one visit down into the drill trench in the NEEM camp on the middle of Greenland’s ice sheet is sure to convince you! “Once it was decided that the Polar Huskies and I had to return to the United States on a plane scheduled for last Thursday, I got busy getting everything done, so I could have time in the trenches,” grins Mille.  The trenches are what’s going on underneath the “white tent” at the NEEM camp. You go into the white tent, down some shaky metal stairs, and you find yourself in an enormous chamber cut out of the ice sheet “under-snow.” Down here is the constant humming of the drill going deeper and deeper into the ice sheet. On good days, it comes up six or seven times a day with a 3.5 meter (some 10.5 feet) ice core and a kilo, or couple of pounds, of snow shavings. The shavings are then washed in a washing machine to rid it of the drill fluid ingeniously invented here at the camp—basically a mixture of all sorts of stuff from coconut oil to beet juice—to be more environmentally friendly than what’s used anywhere else! If it all sounds a little strange, it’s because it is just that. Just wonderfully strange and magic science going on here!


     Listen for detail on the drill fluid that is in the drill hole with driller Trevor and drilling pioneer Steffen

  Watch the Snow-Shavings-Washing-Machine-procedure before the shavings are brought to the surface
  with driller Vasileios

  Watch drill master Steffen kindly walk us through the inner works of the drill
Still got questions? Check out the drill diagram from Steffen!

Trevor is all smiles as his team pull out the new
ice core just drilled!
Once a core is out, measured and prepped, its next stop is the science trench. Go through the narrow corridor into another even bigger chamber, this one buzzing with people and machines spread out and tucked in every corner. They even have heated labs here! This is where the ice cores are analyzed for greenhouse gases, black carbon, sands from Saraha, sea salt, and so much more… The sea salt deposited during annual storm cycles is actually a way to count out how old the ice is! Working in cold (some minus 24ºC or minus 11ºF) and tight spaces some 20 meters (60 feet) or more under the snow surface of the ice sheet, scientists and engineers from around the world crowd together to figure out how their various research projects relate—and how best to help one another solve their research questions. “On my last evening at the camp we had a small get-together with much laughter about the many different languages spoken around the table with people from more than 11 countries at the camp! It is so inspiring to watch the teamwork going on here!” exclaims Mille.

  Watch the first ice core drilled this year carefully cut up
  for scientific study – its snow that fell on the ice sheet
  37, 617 years ago!

 Joseph ‘the Black Carbon man’ in front
setting up in the Science Trench
  Watch how we can see
  annual cycles by scanning
  the ice core!

  Watch Daiana the mix master making buffers that make
  ion gases in the core visible!
  Watch ‘Operation CFA’ with Thomas to measure the
  continuous flow of gases in the ice core from top to
  bottom of the ice sheet!
  Watch Remi, a mad scientists for gases! Using his gas laser
  to explore how the atmosphere has been put together
  for the past 120,000 years once the job is done!
  Watch for gases in a thin sliver of the first ice core
  drilled this year through two polarizer’s with
  Sepp… It’s beautiful!


Theo ski-joring with Disko and Rubi- it’s Lightning running along on the side!
Earlier in the night the Polar Huskies had tried out for a new kind of team work… Ski-joring! Trevor, Theo, and Jacob, all veteran deep ice core guys, brought their skis out to the dogs, where Mille paired them each with two Polar Huskies. Mille rode with Martin on the snowmobile, while Theo led the pack with Disko and Rubi attached to a belt around his waist, followed by Jakob with Beacon and Sable, and Trevor with Jupiter and Lightning finishing off the pack. It did not quite work out as planned. After a lot of commotion, a nail-biting crash by Trevor, and a lot of laughter, Trevor and Jupiter were running solo out front while Lightning was “free leading.” Still, it was a blast. :) 

  Watch Trevor with Lightning and Jupiter in fast action!


     Steffen with Sable, and Mille with Nazca,
     loading Polar Huskies for the flight home

That morning, the sleds and all the gear and equipment was already packed and sitting on the runway (or ski-way as it is called at the camp). Mille and the gang were ready for their scheduled departure. The Hercules airplane was all but off the ground to NEEM when it was stopped because of a ash cloud that had been detected over NEEM. You may have heard that air traffic was jammed up because of ash clouds in the atmosphere when a volcano erupted in Iceland in April!? Overhead, we had beautiful, blue, sunny skies. Satellite imagery showed the same conditions throughout Greenland, except in one place: right over NEEM! So the plane was cancelled and we all laughed hard at NEEM, wondering a bit just how real that all was. Friday morning there was no ash cloud, but it was snowing, blowing, and visibility was poor. Still, word came from the National Guard that they would attempt to fly and land regardless to get the Polar Huskies on the move back to the United States. Hours later we heard the plane buzzing above flying in circles hoping for the cloud cover to break into blue sky just long enough to touch down. It did!

The last ride – to the plane! Hans Christian is ahead on the snowmachine while Steffen is with Mille and the team of Polar Huskies pulling the second machine.
“I really was not all that much in a hurry to leave NEEM,” admits Mille, “the science here really fascinated me, and its just a wonderful crew to hang out with!” As soon as the plane landed Mille jumped on the snowmobile with scientist Hans Christian and pioneer deep ice-core drill master Steffen to go get the Polar Huskies to the plane. Moving one team at a time, we hooked each of the two teams in front of the snow mobile and had them pull us up to the plane—the last rides on Greenland’s ice sheet with the Polar Huskies!


  Explore the site of gear dismantling!
  Where do you think Mille was staying at NEEM ?

       Sarah the Cook makes wonders
     happen at NEEM!


  Watch Mille busy with lots to be done at the end of
  an expedition!

  Watch Lou and Sverrir at NEEM helping out, here getting the
  sleds ready for shipping out

Once in their boxes, the Polar Huskies were loaded into the belly of the massive Hercules plane. All the equipment, sleds, and food had already been loaded by Sverrir, Lou, and Alli from the camp. Lunch in hand from Sarah-the-cook, lots of hugs were exchanged, and off we went! More than 14 hours later we landed on the military base in the State of New York, with the Polar Huskies about to set paw again on the soil in the United States. Tim was there! Standing next to the dog truck to help out with the long drive still back to Minnesota! "As soon as we had the trailer loaded with lots of great help from members of the National Guard, the Polar Huskies had cleared customs and stretched their legs for a bit and had a drink of water, we loaded them up in the dog boxes on the truck, and we were on the road…" says Tim. We couldn’t stop, because we needed to keep good air circulation for the dogs—except that the truck broke down in the middle of the highway in Cleveland, Ohio, needing a new alternator, which Urgent Repairs somehow miraculously found us and then installed. This, like the rest of the drive, was handled by the Polar Huskies with wagging tails, even as the temps approached 94ºF (34ºC).


Here greeting Lou from NEEM, Kathy from Polar
Field came to pick up Mille and the Polar Huskies


  Watch Sverrir load the Polar Huskies onto
  the Hercules at NEEM
  Watch flying a hercules from its huge cockpit!
  Watch the Polar Huskies arriving back to
  the United States
  Watch Trigger dart out of the box and happy to see Tim!


      Tracker the Stuffed Polar Husky has traveled
      more than 17,000 miles on this years
      Classroom Expedition! Taking part in the
      Polar Husky Challenge, Mr Sipper's students
      covered 1525 miles already in March!
Yes, the Polar Huskies are simply amazing! And so are the GoNorth! teacher and student explorers! The Polar Huskies are the superstars, as well as all of you out there exploring with adventure learning! You are explorers to be admired! A huge thank you to all of you who make GoNorth! a success. A "qujanaq!" as they say in Kalaallisut in Greenland. We hope you have enjoyed being part of the team on our journey to Greenland, as much as we have enjoyed sharing the adventure on the trail to the magical moments you have all created in classrooms worldwide and online at PolarHusky.com. With GoNorth! we set out five years ago on a circumpolar journey to deliver five adventure learning expeditions from around the Arctic ocean. Today, this mission is complete. We are proud to be part of your team… and we can't wait to go exploring with you again next year!

That’s right - the adventure goes on! Next winter, the Polar Huskies will set out on Sápmi 2011 to the land of the Sámi people in Finland, Russia, Norway, and Sweden. 

2010 Zone Post: Listen to a Sense of Place from Minnesota!
2010 Zone Post: Look at a Sense of Place PowerPoint presentation!
2010 Post: Whales of Greenland: Check out Whales of Greenland from Mrs. Mottinger's Class!

The Polar Husky Teacher of the Year 2010 award for the spirit and the drive to work across subject areas making the adventure learning experience expand far beyond the classroom walls goes to Ms Erin Jones at Harbor School in Seaford, New York USA! From the students in her classroom check out the Zone Post: Arctic Transportation and watch the movie: The Ocean

152 students in Greenland have been hard at
work doing social and natural science with Christine for the past 12 weeks!!
   Watch interview with champion
   dogsledder Ville Stiegstad by students
   in Ilulissat
  Watch Christine’s interview with Tom
  Osterman in Ilullisat on the importance
  of the ocean’s resources to the people
              of Greenland!
Before we close up this adventure learning expedition and start thinking ahead to the next, a most heartfelt qujanaq to the people of Greenland who welcomed our team and the Polar Huskies. Not least, the communities of Siorapaluk, Qaanaaq, Ilullisat, and Uummannaq who welcomed Christine with such warmth and kind generosity. “I am so thrilled with the amazing work the young people in these communities have done sharing what climate change is to them and taking part in doing science here in Greenland,” says Christine. Mille goes on, “I can’t wait to see it all going live online real soon and for all of us to be able to chime in!” Stay tuned for that! Sometime this summer we will announce the new website showcasing climate stories and science findings of youth around the circumpolar Arctic - and in the future maybe even from some of you and, you may get a chance to meet the Polar Huskies in person!

See, in the next year, we are also setting out on two “What Is Climate Change to You? Polar-Husky-Trucking-expeditions”… Once the snow is flying, we will be traveling with Polar Huskies aboard the dog truck to schools in the snow belts on the U.S. east coast and Great Plains to get young people there involved in this science effort! So if you are a teacher and you would like a visit for your school, keep an eye out for an alert in your mailbox over the summer!

        The Polar Huskies back in the USA

Last, we have tremendous gratitude for the incredible support that has been extended towards us from our partners and other fantastic people with organizations that just chose to step up to our challenges and help out—not least the staff with Borek Air, Kim and Kathy at Polar Field, and the many great folks at NEEM. Qujanaq!


  Listen and walk with Mille on Greenland’s ice sheet

  Listen to the last howl from the Polar Huskies
  from Greenland!

Make sure to join our last chat with Team GoNorth! as Mille goes live from Expedition Basecamp on Friday, May 28th at 10 AM CT for some 'team chatting'!

*** Thank you to Martin Leonhardt for letting us include your photographs from NEEM in this week's update!