Radford research team making progress in Alaska

The research team, led by Professor of Physics Rhett Herman, is studying Arctic sea ice.

A team of Radford University students and faculty is among a group of adventurous researchers combing the Alaskan frontier.

On Feb. 27, eight Radford undergraduates, two faculty members and three Southwest Virginia Governor's School students embarked on a research expedition to Barrow, Alaska. For more than a dozen years, the university has participated in the trip, led by Professor of Physics Rhett Herman.

The team joins a group of researchers from throughout the world at the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory where they are studying Arctic sea ice amidst extreme weather conditions.

"First off, it's really cold," Herman wrote in an email this week to Radford University. "The temperature is not bad at about 15 below zero. But the wind chill is the worst I've felt for any time on one of these trips.  The wind chill is putting things at about 40 below zero. People and equipment both fail in that extreme."

The equipment, some developed by Herman specifically for the trip, includes a microclimate sensor sled, OhmMapper, ground-penetrating radar and an ice drill.

Despite the harsh conditions, Herman said the group is working together and making great progress.

"The bottom line is that we have, so far, at least enough data to call the whole thing a success," he wrote. "We are putting the finishing touches on the project. We have really had to work with our RU-original microclimate sleds. They are in the prototype stage, and we're making it up as we go along. Between all of us, someone always has an idea as to what can fix yet another problem that arises. That's what makes the whole thing work - it's all of us doing this, not just one person."

The team is scheduled to return March 12.

To read more about and see photos of the trip, visit the research team's website.

Mar 10, 2016