2016 JISAO Internship Program
Determining Glacier Runoff Contributions on the Wolverine Glacier in Alaska
Hi there! My name is Austin Carter from Michigan, the Great Lakes State. I’m currently studying Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan. For my 2016 JISAO internship, I was fortunate to work with two brilliant scientists in two different states.
In Washington, I worked with the fantastic Dr. Anthony Arendt. I learned a great deal about data management and the importance of data transparency and reproducibility—a field I was never familiar with before the internship. I also became acquainted with software like QGIS and coding languages like SQL and Python. Learning these database and coding skills has been and will continue to be valuable to my academic development.
In Alaska, I worked with the amazing Dr. Shad O’Neel. With him, I spent ten days in the Kenai Mountains living modestly near the Wolverine Glacier. Part of my time in the field was spent skiing to the accumulation zone—the area on the glacier where more snow remains than melts. Here we drilled a 27-meter core and sampled each section for isotope analysis. As of August, there is a total of five complete cores at this specific site this year. When our samples are processed, we will be investigating how the stable water isotopes within the cores have evolved throughout the season and how they are preserved in an annual layer.
The other part of my time in the field was spent hiking to various water sources and places in the glacier-fed river system including surface melt, tundra streams, groundwater, at the terminus, near the stream gauge, and where the river meets the ocean. We collected samples from these sites to be processed for stable water isotope analysis as well. Here we are hoping to use the isotope data to partition water coming from the glacier into its different components. Understanding how much glacier ice is melting is important because this water has unique properties that ultimately have downstream ecological impacts.
JISAO’s internship was an extremely rewarding experience for me. Because of this internship, I have become a stronger Earth science researcher. Plus, I discovered that Seattle summers are beautiful—Seattle’s best kept secret! Needless to say, I will be returning in the future. Thank you so much JISAO for giving me this extraordinary opportunity!