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Univ. of Miami Rosenstiel School Students Ryan Woosley and Wilson Mendoza Travel to Antarctica

ice
Photo by Wilson Mendoza

MIAMI — June 8, 2011 — High winds, dreary evenings, extreme temperature and isolation are terms often used to stereotype Antarctica. Breathtaking panoramic views, pristine wildlife and the unknown, are phrases usually left out of that description. For University of Miami (UM) Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry students, Wilson Mendoza and Ryan Woosley, Antarctica is no longer a mystery of their imagination, but a reality that was experienced for 68 days this past winter.

A research team composed of more than 12 institutions that included Scripps, Woods Hole, Texas A&M, as well as UM’s Rosenstiel School, descended upon frigid terrain as part of a follow-up survey that was conducted over 10 years ago. In 1998, a similar expedition collected a broad range of data that was submitted to an online database, accessed worldwide by professors and students conducting research in the geosciences. This information portal was useful for scientists who might need a quick data set for an experiment and a way to share intriguing information with colleagues around the world. The goal of Mendoza and Woosley’s journey, along with that of 42 scientists was to update that database by stopping at 140 remote data collecting stations in Antarctica. The overall initiative is studying the carbon distribution in the ocean, with Woosley and Mendoza measuring the pH at each of the stations as part of the CLIVAR (Climate Variability)/ National Science Foundation funding for UM Professor Dr. Frank Millero’s CO2 laboratory.

“This trip was planned over 10 years ago, and to be able to contribute to the findings is a great opportunity. The data collected will be used for thousands of years to come by hundreds of scientists. It’s kind of a great way to leave my mark on the science community long-term. I never thought this would be possible as an international student from the Philippines, but I had such an amazing time,” says Mendoza.

The massive ice-breaking ship R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer, played host to the research crew as they navigated the iceberg infested waters. Mendoza recalls sailing by these massive glacial structures that were just astonishing in size. “The mammoth icebergs were everywhere. It was just remarkable seeing. We were so busy working 12 hour shifts, but when we had down time, or opportunities to look around and soak it all in, it was well worth it.” Woosley says, “There wasn’t much free time, but during our journey we saw hundreds of penguins as well as seals, whales, and a rare sighting of the Aurora Australis.”

About the UM Rosenstiel School
The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit www.rsmas.miami.edu.

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wilson mendoza •  scripps •  ryan woosley •  climate •  national science foundation •  carbon dioxide •