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ABSTRACT The Environmental Science Program at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, Alaska utilizes our unique outdoor field experience opportunities.

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Presentation on theme: "ABSTRACT The Environmental Science Program at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, Alaska utilizes our unique outdoor field experience opportunities."— Presentation transcript:

1 ABSTRACT The Environmental Science Program at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, Alaska utilizes our unique outdoor field experience opportunities as part of both the classroom experience and our undergraduate research component. This presentation focuses on our successes in taking advantage of our surrounding environment in the maritime rainforest of the Alaska panhandle to enhance our undergraduate program. We will highlight some of our most successful undergraduate experiences, which include a snow pack monitoring site at our local ski area, glacier mass balance studies on the Mendenhall Glacier, glacial geology studies in Glacier Bay National Park, and the development of wireless networks to monitor bats. We will describe methods we have used to integrate the field opportunities into our program. The University of Alaska Southeast is an open enrollment, public university. The University of Alaska Southeast Juneau campus is the scholastic home to about 700 full-time and 2,000 part-time students. It offers a variety of degree and certificate programs including master's and bachelor's degree. The Juneau campus' natural setting along the shores of the Inside Passage lends itself to the study of marine biology and environmental science. LOCAL ENVIRONMENT The Tongass National Forest occupies 77 percent of the land in Southeast Alaska. At 16.8 million acres it is the largest national forest as well as the worlds largest remaining temperate rainforest, and it contains the largest tracts of virgin old- growth trees left in America. The Juneau Icefield is the fifth largest Icefield in North America and feeds 40 large glaciers (and over 100 other smaller glaciers). The icefield covers a wilderness region of 5,000 square miles about half of which is ice covered Studying Environmental Science at the University of Alaska Southeast means studying in an area of unusually diverse natural systems. Juneaus population is approximately 32,000. It is the third largest city in the state and the largest in Southeast Alaska. As Alaskas capital, Juneau is an active center of government and operations for the state. Juneau is accessible by plane and ferry but not by road. UNIVERSITY Methods Used for Undergraduate Education at the University of Alaska Southeast Environmental Sciences Program Matt Heavner 1 Eran Hood 1 Cathy L. Connor 1 Lisa Hoferkamp 1 1 Dept. Natural Sciences, University of Alaska Southeast, ED43B-0281 The University of Alaska Southeast prides itself on developing academic programs to utilize its spectacular location. Its small class sizes and liberal arts emphasis help to produce graduates who are well-rounded communicators and thinkers. The University of Alaska Southeasts unique location places it within the worlds largest temperate rain forest, alongside the shores of the Inside Passage and within sight of the Juneau Icefield. Thus, Environmental Science students have easy access to cold environments, the rain forest, marine systems, estuaries, wetlands, uninhabited areas, and urban population centers.

2 CLASS OPPORTUNITIES An undergraduate student, Jon Bower, recently presented his research Mobility of Heavy Metals in Peat-Laden Wetlands: Lead and Copper Speciation in Laboratory Batch Slurries at the 228th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. A distributed sensor network for deployment throughout Southeast Alaska is being developed with the help of several undergraduate students. During the 2004 summer, a prototype sensor with geophones and wireless communication was deployed by undergraduates to Lemon Glacier for 6 weeks of testing. Lake drainage events, earthquakes, and other activity were recorded. UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH A primary focus of the Environmental Science Program (ENVS) at UAS is providing undergraduate students with hands-on, field-based learning opportunities. Many of the core classes in the ENVS curriculum are centered around field studies of the local geology and cryosphere – some examples are listed below. GIS/GPS Class – Students collect field data using GPS units with real-time differential correction and use their data to create maps using ArcGIS software. Example student projects include: mapping the terminus position of the Mendenhall Glacier, mapping a route for a new trail to be built around Auke Lake near campus, and mapping changes in the channel geometry of the Mendenhall River downstream from the glacier. Snow/Glacier Class – A field-oriented class that provides a background in snow hydrology and glacier dynamics. Student labs include: comparing the properties of ice crystals from lake and glacier ice, digging snowpits and analyzing snowpack stratigraphy and avalanche hazard near Eaglecrest Ski Area on Douglas Island, developing sensors to measure temperature and vapor pressure gradients in the snowpack, and conducting dye tracer tests to analyze meltwater flow through snow. Glacier Surveying Class – A field class that takes advantage of the Mendenhall Glacier located 6 miles from campus. Students camp out on the glacier terminus and learn to measure a variety of glaciological parameters including: ice thickness (seismic and radar), ice velocity (GPS), pro-glacial lake bathymetry, and glacial meltwater chemistry. Past field classes have also investigated glacial calving dynamics at the rapidly retreating Le Conte Glacier near Petersburg, the southernmost tidewater glacier in North America. Chemistry, Earth Materials, and Geology of Alaska Class – These classes participate in a tour of the Greens Creek mine. Greens Creek is the largest Silver Mine in North America, and is located approximately 18 miles from campus. Summer Field Courses – A variety of summer field courses have been offered. These include experiences on the Tatshenshini River and in the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness Area. The Fish Creek Knob study site is located on the northeast ridge of Mount Ben Stewart on Douglas Island 8 km southwest of Juneau, Alaska (58° 16' 29" N and 134° 31' 48" W). Undergraduate students operate and maintain a meteorological tower located in a flat 20 m by 40 m open area just below treeline at 700 meters above sea level and 100 meters below the top of Eagle Crest. The meteorological tower monitors wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity, and net radiation. Additionally, a sonic snow depth sensor allows observation of real time snow accumulation during storms. The student research was presented by undergraduates in three posters at the 2004 Western Snow Conference in Vancouver and two published proceedings papers. Kent Scheller, an undergraduate, won the Best Poster award for his presentation at the 2003 Western Snow Conference. rapidly retreating into LeConte Inlet. The research has been a joint effort between UAS, the UAF Geophysical Institute, and Petersburg High School. The LeConte Glacier Study is headed by UAS faculty Roman Motyka and Cathy Connor and Petersburg High School Instructor Paul Bowen. Students from UAS spend a week gathering data on glacial activity every summer for use in the study. LeConte Glacier is the southernmost tidewater glacier in the Northern hemisphere. Located outside of Petersburg, Alaska, the glacier is Other ongoing undergraduate research projects: Meteorological Monitoring Station Rainfall Factors Contaminants in Peat Soil Upper Lemon Creek Glacial Lack Outburst Study Duck Creek Well Monitoring Duck Creek and Jordan Creek Watershed Studies Mendenhall Glacier Studies Groundwater-Surface Water Interactions East Alsek Water Quantity and Quality Montana Creek Watershed Studies Reaction of Stream Hydrology to Isostatic Rebound Orographic Phophorus Distribution Distributed Hydrological Modeling Testing a Mechanistic Soil Erosion Model Hydrologically Sensitive Areas-Water Quality Implications Snowpack Evolution and Characterization


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