Keynote Presentation Abstracts

Mark S. McCaffrey, Associate Scientist and Science Communications Specialist, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado at Boulder, Member of the International Polar Year Education, Outreach, and Communications Subcommittee

Polar Science, Global Impacts: The Legacy, Activities, and Relevance of the International Polar Year

Envisioned as a breakthrough collaboration by Lt. Karl Weyprecht of the Austo-Hungarian Navy in the 1870s, the first International Polar Year, or IPY, brought together a dozen nations to study the dynamics of seasonal processes, geomagnetism, auroral phenomenon, and indigenous peoples. He envisioned an intensive observation period, using instruments and protocols to allow for data sharing. Weyprecht died before his call for international coordination of scientific studies was fulfilled, but the model became the inspiration for the second IPY (1932-33), the International Geophysical Year (or IGY, which was begun as the third IPY in 1957-58) and the current IPY, which began March 1, 2007 and will continue through at least March, 2009.

Building on the 125 year legacy of past International Polar Years and leveraging billions of dollars of infrastructure, the current IPY involves tens of thousands of scientists and educators from over sixty nations. IPY includes hundreds of diverse projects ranging from the Arctic Human Health Initiative, examining the health of Arctic residents, to ICESTAR, looking at sun-earth dynamics from the polar vantage points, to dozens of education programs, all coordinated through the IPY Programme Office and displayed through the website.

A timely opportunity to showcase brilliant science-in-action and explore the human dimension to research in some of the most extreme environments on the planet, IPY's focus on the causes and effects of melting snow and ice, on the status and observations of our neighbors to the North, and an in-depth look at the role of carbon in the climate system will help increase scientific literacy about our changing planet.

About the speaker: Having learned in elementary school that the human body and the surface of the Earth are both mostly water, Mark has sought to communicate the basic insight observed by John Muir-that everything is hitched to everything-through a variety of efforts. Beginning as a river guide in the Southwest in the 70s, publishing a newsletter, Waterwise-the Wet Gazette in the 80s, and establishing the Aqua Arts program in the 90s. Recent work includes helping establish the Boulder Area Sustainability Information Network, working as outreach specialist with the NOAA Paleoclimatology program, where he was the lead author on the Paleo Perspective on Abrupt Climate Change, the developer of the Climate Change Collection funded by NSF, and involvement with the International Polar Year Education, Outreach and Communications subcommittee. He is also participating in the development of climate literacy guidelines through the newly formed Climate Literacy for Understanding the Earth System (CLUES) coalition.

David D. Herring, Project Manager for Education and Public Outreach, Earth Sciences Division, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Democratizing Access to NASA Remote-Sensing Data Products

In 1991, the U.S. Congress tasked NASA to conduct a series of Earth-observing satellite missions to advance understanding of our world's climate system. A critical part of this mandate has been for NASA to share its new data and to communicate its new knowledge in a timely manner at all levels of society. Thus, NASA must devise whatever cognitive and technological "bridges" are needed to allow the public to access and understand the agency's new data and information assets.

Today, evolutionary new computer tools allow NASA to process, visualize, project, analyze, and share widely its remote-sensing data sets in a timely manner. This talk will feature a brief demonstration of one new data resource provided by NASA, called NEO for NASA Earth Observations. Emphasis will be placed on ways in which the data available in NEO may be freely leveraged to support inquiry and education. This talk will include demonstrations of open-source analytic tools such as the Image Composite Editor (ICE) and virtual observatories such as WorldWind, and how they may be leveraged to help promote Earth system science literacy among non-scientists.

About the speaker: For 15 years, David has worked mainly as a science writer and editor for NASA. In 1999, he founded NASA's Earth Observatory, an interactive, Web-based magazine designed to share the agency's space-based perspective on Earth with the public. The award-winning site contains more than 200 articles written in a popular style about all aspects of climatic and environmental change. More recently, David collaborated with Kevin Ward to build NEO, a Web site designed to freely share NASA Earth Science Data Products in popular data formats. Ultimately, David's goal is to establish a global community of Amateur Earth Observers -- somewhat analogous to amateur astronomers. David attended East Carolina University, in Greenville, NC, where he trained in Scientific and Technical Communications, Journalism, and Science Education. He currently lives in Bowie, Maryland, with his wife Michele and their four children.

Elena Sparrow, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Climate Change Studies Using Different Knowledge Systems

An NSF project "Global Change Education Using Western Science and Native Observations" also called Observing Locally, Connecting Globally (OLCG) was unique in that different knowledge systems were used. Methods developed in the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) and an Alaska Snow and Ice Research program were used as the basis of the western science approach while Alaska Native observations and knowledge was the basis of the traditional ecological knowledge approach and the common ground between the two knowledge perspectives was emphasized. Athabascan and Inupiat experts including elders, scientists and educators including Master teachers guided Alaskan K-12 teachers outside and inside the classroom during the OLCG two-week summer science institutes. The OLCG institute always started with a field trip on the Tanana river and at the Howard Luke Camp, led by the Native experts who shared their observations and systems approach to Earth Science studies. Teachers also learned and practiced GLOBE protocols in weather, surface hydrology, soils, land cover and plant phenology investigations. In addition teachers conducted inquiries based on local environmental changes relevant to the communities in which they teach. Digitized interviews of Native experts and a meteorologist about their climate change observations and knowledge are published on the OLCG website linked to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Project Jukebox website. The multiple knowledge perspective approach will also be used in a new NSF International Polar Year (IPY) GLOBE Seasons and Biomes Earth System Science Project to help pre-college students in understanding Earth as a system, to learn science by conducting investigations on their local biomes and to participate in IPY activities.

About the speaker: Dr. Elena Bautista Sparrow is Director of Education Outreach at the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) and the Center for Global Change at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). She is also a Research Associate Professor of Soil Microbiology at the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, also at UAF. Her research interests are climate change, microbial ecology, nutrient cycling, and science education. Elena has over 25 years research and more than 18 years teaching experience including science education for K-12 teachers. She is also the Director of the University of the Arctic IPY Higher Education and Outreach Office and Co-Chair of the IPY K-12 Education Outreach of the University of Alaska. She founded the Alaska Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program in 1996, and she has been a GLOBE scientist since 1999. Additionally, she leads other science education programs in Alaska such as the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Schoolyard Project and the Alaska Rural Research Partnership Education Outreach program of the Alaska Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). Recently, Elena led an IARC summer school aboard a Russian icebreaker on the Arctic ocean for fourteen K-12 teachers from Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, concurrent with the IARC Nansen and Amundsen Basin Observations System (NABOS) research cruise. The 26-day Arctic expedition provided teachers the opportunity to learn about the Arctic, prepare for the International Polar Year (IPY) and engage their students in Earth Science investigations. Elena is the principal investigator (PI) of the NSF funded IPY GLOBE Seasons and Biomes project and also a co-PI on the GK-12 Teaching Alaskans Sharing Knowledge program. Elena is married to Stephen D. Sparrow and they have a son Eric-Paul and a daughter Emmalisa.