The slow traverse of Arctic lands enables GoNorth! to collect in-situ data of the environment as well as to observe, experience, and document Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), while interacting with students and teachers nationwide in the collaborative online learning environment.
In-Situ Snow Depth and Snow Equivalent Water (SWE) Sampling
Throughout each expedition the team will geo-locate their campsites, proceeding to collect three forms of snow data in collaboration with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): 1. snow depth 2. snow weight, and 3. snow crystals to be stored in liquid nitrogen for later shipment to and examination by NASA laboratories. With very few “weather stations” throughout the Arctic circumpolar region, hydro-meteorological data, especially in-situ snow data, is sparse. Snow data collected and analyzed during GN! will aid the scientific community’s efforts to fill in the knowledge gaps about snow metamorphosis.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)
In recent years scientists have realized the importance of collecting TEK from Elders in Arctic communities, mainly indigenous people, as a vital source of environmental information. Passed along, in oral tradition, from generation to generation for thousands of years, today TEK contributes greatly to the scientific understanding of the processes and patterns of recent climate change, and the impacts on various ecological and social issues within the scientific community. Access and cross-cultural settings are the primary hurdles for collection of TEK. When arriving by traditional dogsled, forceful cultural barriers are removed, and doors open for natural communication with local Arctic people. Such face-to-face interaction and collaboration with indigenous communities is the catalyst for rare insight into both traditional and contemporary culture. This provides GN! with an exceptional opportunity to not only expand science and social science knowledge of these cultures, but to provide a tool through which these Native people can be heard. Activities designed to help us interact and learn from communities include local community workshops, individual interviews, local presentations/ radio shows in Arctic communities, and Elder-Youth Day camps, all followed by post trip analysis and comparisons in the form of a synthesis report about the TEK findings. TEK collection will be conducted in collaboration with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hosted by Harvard University, and funded in part by National Science Foundation.