Students Join Scientists At The South Pole Via The Web

November 24, 1998

BOULDER -- Thanks to a scientist from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), students from around the world can join in the excitement of a six-week field study at the South Pole's new Clean Air Facility. Lee Mauldin, a scientist from NCAR's headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, is one of four staff stationed at the Pole through mid- December for the Investigation of Sulfur Chemistry in the Antarctic Troposphere (ISCAT). While there, Lee is maintaining a Web site with frequent updates and kid-friendly language explaining the science, geography, and logistics behind a South Pole expedition. The site is at

ISCAT is supported by the National Science Foundation, NCAR's primary sponsor.

"To me it's a neat thing just to be able to go [to the Pole]," says Mauldin. He envisions the Web site as a "virtual field trip." The site includes digital-camera photos and a link to Mauldin's electronic mailbox. "Hopefully we can get some input from schools and answer their questions by e-mail," he says. He has already heard from Navajo students in New Mexico who are following his project through the Web. Mauldin plans a similar Web project next spring while he is in the South Pacific for a tropical field experiment. That site will be accessible from the Web page for NCAR's Atmospheric Chemistry Division,

The goal of ISCAT is to study sulfate chemistry at the Pole, a site with few human influences on atmospheric chemistry and no local sources of dimethyl sulfide or sulfur dioxide, the two primary sources of airborne sulfur. Air routinely sinks from higher altitudes to ground level at the Pole. With its elevation of nearly two miles (three kilometers), air quality is comparable to that found elsewhere well above ground level. Joining Lee on the experiment are NCAR coinvestigator Fred Eisele, scientist Dave Tanner, and technician Ed Kosciuch. NCAR's team will accompany researchers and instruments from Drexel University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Universities of Minnesota, New Mexico, and California, Irvine.

This fall's field work is the first of two rounds scheduled for the four-year ISCAT program. The second field phase will take place in the fall of 2000 and will be keyed to answering questions that arise from this year's sampling. Years two and four will be devoted to data analysis.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of more than 60 universities offering Ph.D.s in atmospheric and related sciences, manages NCAR.


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