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Teacher blogging about his Antarctic adventure

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PARISHVILLE — While many north country residents travel south for the winter to escape the bitter cold and snow, Parishville-Hopkinton Central School science teacher Glenn W. Clark has headed south, but he’s not escaping the cold or snow.

Mr. Clark is in the midst of a two-month-long scientific expedition to eastern Antarctica, where he is among a team of scientists with PolarTrec studying the Totten Glacier system.

Mr. Clark is writing a blog on PolarTrec’s website to keep his students, friends, colleagues and family informed while he’s away.

“Glenn is off on his trip,” Parishville-Hopkinton Superintendent Darin P. Saiff told board of education members at their meeting this week. “He’s on the ship right now.”

High school Principal Robert Stewart, who has exchanged emails on several instances with Mr. Clark, said, “He’s having the time of his life. I love the pictures that are included (in the blog). It’s amazing.”

According to the blog, Mr. Clark’s trip to Antarctica began Jan. 21, when he flew out of Ogdensburg International Airport to catch a connector flight in Albany before arriving in Tasmania on Jan. 23.

When the ship, an icebreaker named the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer, left from Tasmania’s Hobart Harbor on Jan. 28, Mr. Clark blogged that it was 55 degrees.

Mr. Palmer, for whom the ship was named, is credited with being the first American to see Antarctica, which he accomplished in 1820.

On Feb. 4, when Mr. Clark blogged about seeing penguins and crabby seals just north of Antarctica, he wrote that it was 23 degrees.

If 23 degrees sounds warm, remember that south of the equator seasons are reversed and this is actually the continent’s summer season.

The day after he wrote that entry, Mr. Clark said the ship encountered icy waters and had to begin breaking ice to continue making progress toward its first stop, the Mertz Glacier.

“Can you remember the sound of a Slushy machine? How about a Snow Cone maker? If you can multiply the sound 100 times, you can get an idea what it sounds like inside the ship when breaking ice,” he wrote.

“As sea ice is a haven for seals and penguins, it’s not so good for science and travel. We need to cross this thick patch of sea ice in order to reach our first test site close to Mertz Glacier. No worries, it’s all about skill and power. We have both.”

While the temperature that day was a balmy 20 degrees, Mr. Clark did report there was a wind chill of minus 29.

On Saturday, Mr. Clark wrote about life on the ship, noting it has a gym, a sauna and a lounge stocked with books and movies.

He also wrote about working on the ship. “We do shift work. There are 12-hour shifts. One begins at noon and the other at midnight,” he wrote. “The shifts are generally quite busy with a flurry of activity as all the science and ship activity are going on.”

Mr. Clark said as he continues blogging, he’s expected to detail more of the work and science involved.

“As the cruise continues you will get a better idea about a typical work day and how everybody works together to complete the mission,” he said. “It’s pretty cool how coordinated the effort is. It is also great that it is in one of the most beautiful and remote places on earth.”

On Sunday, noting that it was 32 degrees, Mr. Clark used his blog to speak about his journey so far and provide a few fun facts about glaciers.

“While everything is impressive, icebergs are my favorite, so I thought I would share a few basic facts I’ve learned about these awesome structures,” he said, noting icebergs are formed “over millions of years.”

Mr. Clark also said that uneven melting and waves can cause icebergs to flip over.

“This journey continues to amaze me as each day passes. The adventure, the wildlife, and the science are like nothing I have ever experienced,” he said.

“I have taught forever (29 years) and have spent a significant amount of time in remote areas. Nothing can come close to this part of the earth. It is the most amazing place I have ever been.”

People interested in following Mr. Clark’s journey can do so at the link provided below.

PolarTrec is funded in part by the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States and the National Science Foundation.

On the Net

bit.ly/1eRQqHq



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