WKU-CHNGES research continues in Iceland this summer

WKU1Students from Western Kentucky University’s Center for Human GeoEnvironmental Studies, CHNGES, continue research after a study abroad course in Iceland this summer.

Fifteen students, two faculty, and one program assistant participated in the third annual Faculty-Led Study abroad course focusing on the realities and perspectives of climate change in Iceland. Students were given the chance to study the science of the Arctic’s changing climate through experiencing the physical, environmental and geographical wonders of Iceland’s unique landscape. The course also highlighted the social and communication aspects of sustainability through discussions focusing on ecotourism and energy use.

CHNGES partnership with the University of Akureyri and IACN has opened opportunities for three students to extend their stay in Iceland to continue research on arctic matters.

Drs. Jason Polk and Leslie North of WKU’s Geoscience Department led the WKU summer abroad course and will be staying to help James Graham and Allison Quiroga on individual thesis projects.

WKU2Dr. Leslie North will be working with James Graham, in collaboration with Edward Hujbens at the University of Akureyri, to investigate the development of tourism destinations in Iceland through the use of mobile eye-tracking technology. “He is testing whether this technology can be used to advise the development of tourism sites such as where signs should be placed to inform people or manage behavior or how infrastructure should be installed,” according to North. Within Iceland, James is sampling at Thingvellir National Park and Solheimjokull to use Iceland as a case study site.

Dr. Jason Polk will be assisting Allison Quiroga in studying dissolved inorganic carbon flux from glacial rivers in the three prominent ice caps in Southern Iceland. By sampling the longitudinal profiles of the outlet rivers from multiple glaciers, she will be able determine how much carbon is being stored and transported within the glacial systems during the weathering process, according to Polk. “Allison is using carbon isotopes to determine the source and how it evolves through the system to better understand the impact the rapid melting of glaciers in Iceland is having on current and future carbon dioxide levels,” according to Polk.

wku3Audrey Alexander partnered with IASC to calculate the carbon footprint for an upcoming Arctic Science Summit Week 2020 conference. She will be using the Clean Air, Cool Planet Campus Carbon Calculator to predict the carbon footprint. Using the calculator’s results, Audrey will be working alongside event planners to suggest ways to mitigate the conference’s emissions and provide guidelines for attendees.

Find more information on the CHNGES website: http://www.wkuchnges.com/home.html

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