Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Arctic Field Research - GO NORTH - http://www.polarhusky.com - Dr James Foster study of snow crystals

Field Research

The slow traverse of Arctic lands enables Team GoNorth! along with students, teachers and learners of all ages to actively partake in validation of scientific research on climate change.

In collaboration with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) the expedition team will collect three forms of hydro-meteorological snow data to aid in filling the knowledge gaps about snow metamorphosis, as well as the ground-truthing of satellite images used in the development of climate change models.

In collaboration with Office of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation (NSF) the team will observe, experience, and document Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). In recent years scientists have realized the importance of collecting TEK as a vital source of environmental information. Passed along, in oral tradition, from generation to generation for thousands of years, today TEK contributes greatly to the scientific understanding of the processes and patterns of recent climate change, and the impacts on various ecological and social issues within the scientific community.

In collaboration with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the expedition team will collect frozen feces from wild animals along the expedition trail. Climate change is altering the ecology of infectious agents and driving the emergence of disease in people, domestic animals, and wildlife. This research is to investigate the impact of climate warming on development rates and availability of an important parasitic nematode, to further understand responses to climate change of host-parasite systems, in the Arctic and globally. USDA is also a partner in the effort on collecting hydro-meteorological data.

In collaboration with the University of Washington, Department of Atmospheric Sciences and the Soot In Arctic Snow Project, the Team will collect snow samples to test for sot along the the expedition trail. The preference is for snow samples to be taken during March-May (i.e., near the time of maximum snow depth) so the snow samples will be taken at several vertical levels through the snow pack.  At the end of the expedition, the snow samples will be stored in a freezer for future analysis. The snow will be melted and filtered; the filters are then analyzed for light transmission at four wavelengths to separate the contributions to absorption by soot and dust. The snow must be kept frozen
until immediately before filtering, to avoid losses of soot to the container walls and to avoid algal growth.

 Dr. James Foster


Name: James Foster, GoNorth! Hydrometerological Research
Born: 1947
Organization: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Hydrological Sciences Research
Cool Science: Physical Scientist

Who Am I:
Dr. Foster received his B.S. and M.A. degrees in Geography from the University of Maryland, and his Ph.D. degree in Geography from the University of Reading in England, 1995. He has worked as a physical scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center, in the Hydrological Sciences Branch, since 1978. His research interests include remote sensing of snow and ice utilizing various satellite and aircraft sensors. Dr. Foster has been involved in research programs and field work that have taken him to Antarctica, Greenland, Alaska, the Northwest Territories of Canada, Svalsbard, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains and New England.

My Cool Research:
To acquire a deeper understanding of the impact and interactions of seasonal snow with other components of the Earth system, such as cycling of water and energy, a more complete and detailed knowledge of the physics of snow, including how snow crystals evolve, is required. In addition, before we can confidently address whether or not the Earth (or regions of our planet) is changing and what the consequences of change may be, we must first develop highly reliable and accurate models and algorithms to increase the certitude, quantitatively, that in fact, change is occurring. Is change occurring in specific regions or across the globe and is the change limited to one sphere, in the cryosphere for example or in many realms?

My interest in the work GoNorth! is undertaking is the collection (by the GoNorth! Team) and analysis of snow crystals (using a scanning electron microscope) from several different sites in northern North America and Eurasia ; namely northern Alaska, north-central Canada, north-eastern Siberia and northern Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula. This activity, over the course of multiple snow seasons, will allow us to develop a method to estimate grain size and density and better improve estimation of SWE derived from passive microwave algorithms. By collecting and analyzing snow crystals precisely and accurately over the course of a snow season, a simple snowpack metamorphosis model can be improved greatly and thus, errors of passive microwave global SWE estimation can be reduced.   


My Cool Publications: (selected)

Foster, J. L., J. S. Barton, A. T. C. Chang, and D. K. Hall, "Snow crystal orientation effects on the scattering of passive microwave radiation," IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Vol. 38, No.  5, 2430-2434, 2000.

Hall, D.K., J.L. Foster, V.V. Salomonson, A.G. Klein and J.Y.L.Chien, Development of a Technique to Assess Snow-Cover Mapping Accuracy from Space, IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Vol. 39, No.2, 2001.

Foster, J., A. Chang, D. Hall, and R. Kelly, "Seasonal snow extent and snow mass in South America using passive microwave data" Polar Geography, Vol. 25, N0. 1, pp. 41-53, 2002.

Foster, J., A. Chang, L. Tsang, C, Chen, D. Hall, A. Tait, and J. Barton, "35 GHz measurements of CO2 crystals" Radio Science, Vol. 38, #2, 2003.

Foster, J. L., A. Rango, E. Josberger, E. Erbe, C. Pooley, and W. Wergin, "Low temperature scanning electron microscopy of snow crystal metamorphism in winter snow covers" Scanning, Vol. 26, No. 2, 68-69, 2004.

Kelly, R.E.J., Chang, A.T.C, Foster, J.L. and Hall, D.K., "Using remote sensing and spatial models to monitor snow depth and snow water equivalent," in R.E.J. Kelly, N.A. Drake and S. Barr (eds.) Spatial Modelling of the Terrestrial Environment, Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd., 2004.

Other Cool Stuff:

Educational video: Hall, D.K., A.B. Tait and J.L. Foster, "Observations of Snow Cover from the Ground and Space," completed June 2001 (Produced by C. Starr/Code 588), a 17-minute long educational video.

Eastern Snow Conference, President, 1988-1989

Science Question of the Week (1996-2006) --  http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/science.html.

Earth Science Picture of the Day (2001- present) --  http://epod.usra.edu/

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