This summer I had the privilege of working for the Juneau Icefield Research Project or JIRP. JIRP takes both undergraduate and graduate students to Alaska for a field season on the Juneau Icefield. The entire expedition consists of approximately 70 people with around 30 students, 10 field staff, and around 30 research faculty who rotate throughout the season. Students are split into various groups based on interest and conduct research in their respective fields with the faculty.
During my stay on the Icefield, I worked as part of the climatology team which analyzed how temperature changes in the region. To answer this question, our team skied long many transects collecting surface snow samples to later run them through a water isotope analysis. Ultimately, we found that areas of higher altitude have a faster rate of warming compared to areas of lower altitude.
Other than academics JIRP also provides an excellent window into mountaineering and polar expeditions. Everyone participating lives in the same conditions and helps around camp to ensure everything runs smoothly. Six of days on the icefield are dedicated to traverses from camp to camp. These are often 20 mile, 14 hour days where the entire expedition moves to the next base camp. The days are hard, but the reward of skiing into a new camp is well worth the effort. Overall JIRP is fantastic program for those looking to explore polar sciences.