Report by ECSU Research Student, Jerome Mitchell :: Daily Advance Articles - Article One :: Article Two

For some people, the idea of exploring a remote place plagued with sub-zero temperatures, harsh living conditions, and intriguing wildlife can damper the hunger for any adventure. For me, the idea can infatuate my thoughts and curiosity and lead to a new outlook on life, so when the opportunity arose for a research journey to Antarctica, I knew something astonishing would result from it.

The voyage to the “the ice” was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in a project, The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS), for five weeks testing the theories of global warming. Global warming is the gradual increase in the Earth’s temperature due to greenhouse gases, which are trapping the sun’s heat within the atmosphere. Based on different scientific trials, global warming has been acquitted to melting the polar ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland, which could affect the sea levels around the world, particularly the North Carolina coast.
Having spent two consecutive summers at The University of Kansas conducting polar ice research, I was familiar with the threats and concerns of the coastal regions. CReSIS, which has a partnership with Elizabeth City State University to increase the awareness of minorities in the areas of remote sensing, has multiple teams to contribute to the area of studying glaciology; these areas include robotics, sensors, intelligent systems, communications, radar, and geography. While I was at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) field camp, my responsibilities centered on operating the plane-wave radar, which measures the annual accumulation of snow for determining its net balance, and digging snow pits to accurately test the results of the plane-wave radar by density snow core samples.
The outcome from the field testing revealed that ice is indeed melting in some areas of the West Antarctic ice sheet. Without the appropriate actions, such as reducing the use of commercial products, global warming and its effects on ice sheet can be an upcoming tragedy.
My overall experience was worthwhile and priceless. In order to survive on the ice shelf, I learned the basics of camping, which involved pitching tents, operating HF radios, cooking in the cold, windy conditions; and building emergency shelters and snow walls to protect from the winds. The expedition also taught me about the “patience of science” and that experiments don’t always go as planned. Working with notable scientists, I have learned more about the topics of artificial intelligence as well as radar. The research trip provides not only awareness of knowledge but also an appreciative attitude toward life having sacrificed essentials.