Student Researchers Head to the Top of the World for Arctic Expedition

In July, with temperatures rising in California, 12 students from The Harker School traveled to the Arctic for a special two-week research expedition focused on environmental issues including the impact of global warming. They visited Frogner Park and the Fram Museum, where Norway’s first ship built for polar research is kept. “We ran around the ship looking at every secret room, staircase or tool,” wrote Sharanya Balaji, grade 12.
The next day the students went to Longyearbyen to board their ship, “Le Boreal.” They traveled to Isfjorden and wandered its hills, thence to Poolepynten to see the many walruses that live there. Later on the trip, the students visited the Andoyane Islands, where they received a sobering reminder of one of many ongoing environmental issues. As they walked on to the beach, “we noticed loads and loads of plastic on the ground, which really disturbed us,” said Balaji. They promptly began picking up the trash on the beach, filling nine bags weighing a total of 125 pounds. Afterward they visited Monacobreen, a large glacier that has retreated in recent years due to climate change. “Every so often, you would hear a thunderous booming sound which signified the carving of the glacier,” Balaji said. “Watching that was nothing but surreal.”
The group finally reached the “top of the world” at the island of Grimsey, located off the coast of Iceland, where they spent the day hiking and took in the breathtaking view from the island’s cliffs.
For the final excursion, the students went to Flatey Island, which is inhabited by only six people. Here, the students presented the results of the research they had conducted over the course of the expedition. After they finished, the students were treated to a 17-minute slide show recapping their travels and made the most of their remaining time in Iceland by viewing its famous lava trails and visiting a shark museum.

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