Sunday, 19 June 2016

Questions about Antarctica (2): what don't you know?

The second question I asked the Year 9 and 10 students was what didn’t they know, or what did they want to find out about Antarctica?
Lots of things!

The students were fascinated about the climate
Why is it always so cold? Does it ever get warm?  How cold is it actually? How hot and how cold can it get? How windy can it get? Does it rain? What is the warmest part?
If you have a cold and a runny nose does your snot freeze over? 

… and the difference between summer and winter:
Is it just super dark and depressing for 6 months?
What are the hours of sunset and sunrise in summer and winter? How long are the days?
Are seasons the same as here? What is summer like?
How long can you stay [outside] before you freeze?

The aurora:
Can you see the lights? Where do the aurora lights come from?

Auroras over Scott Base. Photographer: Becky Goodsell. 

Snow and ice:
Is the snow everywhere? How thick can the ice get? How does the ice taste? How old is the ice? I also want to know how thick different pieces of ice are and how much weight they can hold. If you squirted water out of a bottle, would it freeze? Why does the sun not melt the snow/ice?

Nearly all of them wanted to know more about the animals that live there
How tall are penguins, what are they like, do they bite, can you pat them? Can you feed any sea animals? 
How much does an orca eat usually? Do killer whales swim under the ice? 
What kind of species are there that live under water? 
What is the most common animal?

Some wondered what it's like living there:
What’s the population? Do people live there permanently? 
How many layers of clothes do you have to wear? 
Could you snow board there? 
Is it hard to live there because of the cold? 
Do people live in igloos? Do you eat disgusting food? 

Antarctica NZ clothing store

Field rations, 2006-2007

Some were just puzzled:
Why do people want to live down there?

There were some very practical questions:
Do they have shops?
Do you get wi fi there?
I would like to know about phone service.

And some concerns about keeping safe:
What happens if a big snow storm comes, where would you go? 
How do you know where the ground is that will not collapse through? 
If you are walking on ice and there is a crevasse underneath and you fall, will you fall in water or more ice? 
What do you do with dangerous animals?

Just a few of them mentioned climate change:
What is the rate at which Antarctica is melting? How much is global warming actually affecting it?

Iceberg, Antarctic Peninsula, 1991-92.
Photographer: Lou Sanson

And there were some questions that don’t really fit into any category:
Is there a secret place there where people might be living, and how long might they have been there?
Is there anyone buried there under the ice and snow?

These are all great questions and I don't know all the answers - but I'm hoping to find people who do!

(Thanks to the ADAM website for these great photos.) 

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