Park’s Upper School Arctic Researchers Embark on New Project in Churchill, Manitoba


Upper School science teacher Julie Rogers, math teacher Anand Thakker, and four students (Sabina Diaz-Rimal ’15, Christopher Mergen ’14, Natalie Rudin ’15, Cory Silver ’16) have embarked on an extension of Park’s ongoing research in and near Churchill, Manitoba, October 22–28, 2013. The group, in conjunction with peers from Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, will work with Dr. Jane Waterman, a professor at the University of Manitoba, on non-invasive, mark and recapture photographic techniques for gathering census data on Churchill’s polar bear population.

To follow the students’ blog:

This project is the first of its kind for the Park Arctic Research Club. Their trip during the summer of 2013 marked the eighth year Park students traveled to the Arctic and the second year they were joined by international and national partners at Kelvin High (in Winnipeg) and The Northwest School (in Seattle). 

The focus of 2012 research was the examination of the accuracy of data collection using permafrost probes among the 180 students who have participated in the project over the past 7 years. It was determined that the measurements statistically show that the collection practices are reliable. So far, our researchers have not noticed an appreciable difference in thickness (or thinness) of the active layer (soil that thaws each year in the summer) over the last 7 years.

In 2013 the team sought to identify vegetation to the species level in the hopes that we might find a few indicators that reliably suggest, with some degree of accuracy, the depth of the permafrost beneath the active layer – this would minimize the need to probe each year and maximize the number of non-scientists that could participate in monitoring the depth of the active layer by simply noting the plants that live in their backyard.

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