I Can See Russia From My Internship

I Can See Russia From My Internship

For the past month, I have been interning with the Ocean Acidification Research Center (OARC) in Fairbanks, Alaska.  OARC is a major contributor of ocean acidification research in Alaska, and has made great strides to better understand variability in the stressors that exacerbate ocean acidification around the coast of Alaska.  Given the importance of the seafood industry in Alaska, understanding this variability has important implications for not only the environment, but also cultural identity and food security.  For these reasons, it is essential for organizations like OARC to continue long-term monitoring projects to understand variables that exacerbate a region’s vulnerability to the threats of ocean acidification.

You can check out this website to learn more about the work being done at OARC:  http://www.sfos.uaf.edu/oarc/index.php

To learn more about ocean acidification, check out this video:                                                               https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-PWIJI8-9nA

My role at OARC is to gauge if individuals in Alaska perceive ocean acidification to be a threat, how concerned they are with this threat, and how they are willing to mitigate ocean acidification to combat this threat.  I am doing this by creating a survey to better understand how different variables such as involvement in the fishing industry and proximity to the ocean influence this perception, concern, and willingness to mitigate.  Once we get a handle on how perceptions of ocean acidification differ within communities and across regions, we will be able to better communicate the research being done at OARC in order to maximize understanding and acceptance of all of the awesome science taking place here.  A considerable amount of research has been done on perceptions of climate change, but much less has been done on perceptions of ocean acidification.  This is great, because it means that the project I am working on at OARC has the potential to really make an impact.

One perk of working in ocean science is that all of the fieldwork gets to happen on a boat!  While working at OARC, I will also have the opportunity to participate in a number of research cruises to learn more about the science being done at OARC, and complete a thorough test of the hypothesis (and hope) that I do not suffer from sea sickness.  My first cruise is in Glacier Bay, and is coming up in just a week!  I’m hoping this cruise will expose me lots of science and even more sea creatures.  I will also be going on two more cruises in the fall; one of these cruises will be in the Gulf of Alaska, and the other will be up in the Arctic Ocean.  Stay tuned for an epic cruise blog post, with actual ocean pictures to match my ocean discussions!  Overall, it’s really too bad that I’m not allowed to do anything cool or exciting at work…

Hanging out in a permafrost cave near Chicken, Alaska.  Check out the sweet ice lenses!
Hanging out in a permafrost cave near Chicken, Alaska. Check out the sweet ice lenses!

One highlight of moving to Fairbanks in the summer is that it never gets dark.  And the general mentality around here seems to be no darkness, no sleeping.  After work everyone can be found outside hiking, biking, canoeing down the Chena River, or just enjoying the summer weather.  I have even learned how to play ultimate frisbee in a kayak!  The entire Fairbanks community celebrated during the weekend of the solstice; there were tons of barbecues, festivals, and general celebrations throughout the weekend.  I participated by running in the midnight sun run, a costume optional 10K that began at 10pm.  I dressed up like a skeleton. It was quite the hit.  Basically, Fairbanks is awesome.

Casual view from the highway.
Casual view from the highway.

And yes, I know it’s going to get a bit darker and colder in the winter.  I am happy to send along my mailing address to anyone interested in knitting me a scarf, hat, or entire bodysuit.

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