Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Answer: In the middle of nowhere?

That was simpler than most... 

It's sometimes hard to predict how hard a Search Challenge will be, but you loyal and skilled SearchResearchers made short work of this!  The Challenge began with me scanning around on Google Maps over Greenland one day and spotting a most remarkable thing.  

1.  What is the story of this place?  (It's 72.5787606,-38.4543542 ) 

2.  What kind of organization would pay to put this thing here?  Why?  

3.  What was the weather like on May 10, 2016?  (And how cold would it have felt?)  

4.  (Extra credit)  What's the most interesting story to come out of this place in the place year or so? 

Obviously, the first thing to do is to put the lat/long into Google Maps.  And yes, you see the above aerial image.  (Interestingly, Bing Maps shows only white background here.  Strange.) 

 But how would you figure out what it is?  

I thought of two ways to do this... my first thought was that it looked like some kind of arctic research station, so I did the obvious query: 

     [ list of research stations in Greenland ] 

and found a "Category" entry for Research Stations... and it's a short list.  A couple of clicks quickly determines that our lat/long is the Summit Station, so-called because it's at the top of the Greenland ice sheet.  

The OTHER way I thought of to find this was to check out Google Earth.  It's worth knowing that there are a LOT of places listed on Earth.  

I launched Earth, dropped in the lat/long and... nothing.  Really?  Just because there's something there doesn't mean it's got a label. 

So, just to check (because I couldn't believe something so interesting wouldn't be covered), I clicked on the Photos option.  And THAT was the ticket!  When you show the Photos, 4 little photo icons appear, and they (handily enough) have the name of the research station on the image.  

Once you've got that name, it's a quick search to find the Wikipedia entry on Summit Station, and from there you can find the official Summit Station website, and find out that it's run by the NSF (National Science Foundation).  

Why are they interested?  Because "...year-round monitoring of key climate variables are conducted to study air-snow interactions, knowledge of which is crucial for interpreting data from ice cores drilled in the area and elsewhere."  And this research stations is "... located atop 3200 m of ice and is nearly 400 km from the nearest point of land. Summit supports a diversity of scientific research, including year-round measurements of air-snow interactions that provide crucial knowledge for interpreting data from deep ice cores drilled both at Summit and elsewhere." 

In other words, it's a place like no other, and they need it to get baseline data for studies of ice cores, which show us temperature variations over the past thousand years or so.  If you don't know this, you can't make sense of what data you're seeing.  

In looking at their website, after a few clicks, you'll find that they have two blogs for news about the site, only one of which has recent entries (the other seems to have been abandoned a few years ago).   

On that blog you'll find that "...In February, scientists predicted that atmospheric conditions in the Arctic may enable... atmospheric ozone to reach record low levels in 2016–potentially opening a so-called ozone hole."  If you remember your history, the previous ozone hole was in the Antarctic, to date, there's never been one in the Northern Hemisphere.  This may be changing.  If so, here's what it means for you.  As one of the research scientists writes:  "Stock up on sunscreen..."  

To find the weather means reading the Wikipedia page carefully and clicking through to the Summit weather station data (the obvious search [ Summit station weather data ] finds it too), which takes you to this chart: 

Which I read as -12C with a 30 knot wind.  Looking for a [ wind chill calculator ] brings me to one that tells me (yes, I had to do a search to convert it like this: [ 30 knots to mph ] to use the calculator): 

Which is REALLY cold.  Don't hang around outside.  (But look at the chart: May 10th was a relatively mild day--the 12th was much colder.)  

Search Lessons

There are a couple here.  

1.  Check resources that may not be the first one on your list.  The Google Earth idea was great, but I had to use the Photos option to find a name. Once I had that, then I could answer everything else.  

2.  Read the text carefully.  I know I say this all the time, but the primary cause of errors (among the students I teach) is inaccurate reading of the web pages.  They can FIND the content alright (usually), but then make a mistake in simply reading the content.  This is how I noticed that one of the blogs is way out of date.  Just read!  

I hope you enjoyed this.  I certainly had fun reading about the station.  As Remmij pointed out, the photo of the station with the aurora is well worth a look:  Summit Station and Northern Lights.  Finding things like this, and reading the comments you've made and the discoveries we all share, is what makes me keep coming back to the blog.  

Thanks for all you do, gentle readers!  

Search on!  

P.S.  Sorry about being delayed in getting the answers out over the past couple of weeks.  I've been working really hard at various conferences and teaching gigs.  (I'm in San Diego this week, teaching ethnographic methods at UCSD.)  While these things are great fun, they also mess up my schedule quite a bit.  I try, but sometimes I get behind.  Hang in there--I won't leave you hanging high and dry! 

No comments:

Post a Comment