S20C10 Finding and Exploring the Polar Regions of the Earth
This course looks at what we can glean from the expeditions of early explorers about the Earth's Polar Regions, and how these vast landscapes have a profound effect on the Earth's climate and ocean systems. Life in Earth's two polar regions can be incredibly difficult due to the subzero temperatures and extreme annual variations of sunlight. Early European explorers braving these harsh conditions encountered ice barriers that prevented traversing a sea route leading to the Far East (the Northwest Passage). Today, these once frozen waterways are becoming more navigable as the planet's rising temperatures cause Arctic ice to thaw at a rate faster than normal. Locked within semi-permanent ice sheets is a unique record of what our planet's climate was like over the past one million years and hints about how long-term temperature changes at the poles may impact us all.
Dr. Ralph Allen is a retired faculty member of the University of Virginia, where he served as a Professor of Chemistry, Environmental Science, and Public Health Science. He has also previously served as the Associate Vice President for Research at UVA.
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