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Penguins heading for open water. Photo: Glenn Clark
Penguins heading for open water. Photo: Glenn Clark

Parishville-Hopkinton teacher studies climate change in Antarctica

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Have you seen a whale, penguin or seal lately? Parishville-Hopkinton biology teacher Glenn Clark has: He's in Antarctica right now. Clark is one of 17 teachers selected from across the country to work with the Arctic Research Consortium's PolarTREC program, studying climate change.

He's living and working aboard the RV Palmer, an ice breaker research vessel near the Totten Glacier System on the eastern Antarctica coast, one of the most remote, uncharted regions of the world.

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Reported by

Todd Moe
Morning Host and Producer

Ice quickly fills back in behind the icebreaker. Photo: Glenn Clark
Ice quickly fills back in behind the icebreaker. Photo: Glenn Clark
Clark is part of a ship-based team investigating the marine system of the Totten Glacier and Moscow University Ice Shelf, an area which has shown a recent increase in ice loss. He's journaling about his experiences, and Todd Moe caught up with him via satellite phone.

Clark told Todd the real science of the expedition has started up in the last few days, as his ship breaks through Totten glacier ice: "The view is amazing, we are actually in an area that no ship has ever been before and the wildlife, I know they have never seen a ship before. It's just absolutely beautiful."

Glenn Clark aboard an icebreaker off Antarctica's Mertz Glacier. Photo: submitted by Glenn Clark
Glenn Clark aboard an icebreaker off Antarctica's Mertz Glacier. Photo: submitted by Glenn Clark
The expedition has a marine wildlife observer on board to help protect the wildlife in this remote region during the ice breaking. Clark says the team has been seeing several types of whales, seals, and penguins.

As the expedition goes through the coast, the RV Palmer has encountered icebergs and ice, but hasn't been having much trouble breaking through. Occasionally, though, he says, they might have to back up and try again.

A calving iceberg. Photo: Glenn Clark
A calving iceberg. Photo: Glenn Clark
But it's not just the nature that Clark's finding amazing: "The amazing amount of science, the machinery, the life on board and all the different people that put this together, it's a pretty amazing process." He says life on board the RV Palmer is like living in a small city.

As for the weather in Antarctica, it's not as cold as you might imagine. It's late summer now in that part of the world, and temperatures are around 20 degrees. "Actually," Clark says, "the temperature's not as bad as Northern New York."

Glenn Clark will return to the North Country in March; we'll check in with him once more before then.

This summary only contains a portion of what's in the audio interview. Click here to listen to the full interview.

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