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Arctic science

Learning objectives

  • To understand the importance of the 2007- 2009 International Polar Year
  • To understand the nature of the Northern Lights
  • To investigate some of the research which is being undertaken in the Arctic
  • To undertake an enquiry into the pollutants and their effects in the Arctic

Pole position

An interactive quiz about International Polar Year 2007 - 2009.

Questions and answers

  • Do you know what IPY stands for? International Polar Year
  • When do you think the first IPY was held? 1832 - 1883
  • Do you know how many nations took part in the last IPY 2007 - 9? 63
  • How many interdisciplinary research projects were involved in the last IPY2007 - 2009? Over 200
  • IPY 2007 - 2009 had four main 'urgencies'- which do you think is the odd one out? Arctic resources
  • IPY 2007-2009 focused on seven different areas of research. Four are listed   below but with letters missing - can you complete them? LAND, PEOPLE, ATMOSPHERE, ICE

Northern Lights

An investigation into why the Northern Lights happen and their characteristics.

Serious science

Students work in groups to find out more about the aspects of scientific research undertaken in the Arctic. They might be surprised by the amount of daylight or darkness at various times of the year and about the amount of snow that is still around, for example at the airfield at Ny-Alesund in May.

Students use the information in the interactive and the interviews with the scientists to write a letter describing what it is like to live and work on Svalbard.

Polar Packing - these are what should be in each item of luggage and the items that are supplied by the station. The reasons for the inclusion of each item could be discussed. Students could work in groups.

Personal clothing (summer) - (for suitcase)

  • Waterproof /windproof anorak and trousers
  • 2 x hats or balaclavas
  • Head over or scarf
  • Mitts and gloves (several pairs)
  • Thick woollen socks
  • Thermal underwear
  • Outdoor shirts
  • Outdoor trousers
  • Thick woollen pullovers and /or fleeces
  • Knee length rubber boots
  • Walking /climbing boots and gaiters
  • Slippers/clogs MUST BE WORN IN THE LABS
  • Casual wear for use on the station
  • Smart wear for Saturday evening dinner
  • Slippers (shoes are not worn indoors)

Personal clothing (cold spring) - (for suitcase)

  • Quilted skidoo suits
  • Neoprene face masks
  • Bear paw sledge mitts
  • Mukluk snow boots

Field rucksack contents

  • Map
  • Compass
  • Pencil and paper
  • Whistle
  • Penknife
  • Medical first-aid pack
  • Spare clothing pack (minimum hat, mittens socks)
  • Emergency food pack
  • Sunglasses and /or goggles
  • Bivvi bag (a type of survival sleeping bag)
  • Full outer shell clothing (if not being worn)
  • Thermos flask (optional)

Field Safety Equipment - supplied by the station

  • Satellite phones
  • Rifles
  • VHF radios
  • Search and rescue equipment
  • Clothing and equipment
  • Floatation suits
  • CO monitors

Thin ice

This is an introduction to the effects of climate change. A more in depth investigation is undertaken in the climate change chapter.

Science challenge

Investigate the concentration of pollutants in the Arctic. Students could look at the map showing proportional circles and time and ask why there is a concentration of pollutants and why some areas have higher concentration than other areas. More able students could study the concentration of pollutants in the food chain in separate download in the area for teachers.

Polar pitstop

Students design a poster about Arctic pollution using information from the site

Image credits for Northern Lights

  • 22004-99#0001 Northern Lights over the Ersfjord in Tromso; Bjørn Jørgensen/Innovation Norway
  • 102004-3#2063 Nordlys Tromso; Bjørn Jørgensen/Innovation Norway
  • 112008-99#0000 Northern Lights over the mountain Vagakallen in Lofoten;
  • Norway
  • 112008-99#0004 Northern Lights in Lofoten, Northern Norway; Norway
  • 112008-99#0007 Northern Lights in Lofoten, Northern Norway; Norway
  • 012009-99#0003 Northern Lights over Tromso Troms; Bjørn Jørgensen/Innovation Norway

Extra support materials

Teachers' notes

Notes on each chapter for information and tips on the activities in each section to help you plan how to use the site:


Home | 1: Climate change | 2: Living on the edge | 3: Arctic science | 4: Hunter or hunted? | 5: Postcard from the edge | 6: Troubled waters | 7: Resources from the edge | 8: Arctic Circumpolar Governance | 9: Snow, water, ice, permafrost | 10: Adapting to change

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