Ice project takes students south

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    An honors class at BYU will present a scientific project with scientists from the Ukraine, Japan, China and South America today at an

    international science conference in Florida.

    Sixteen members of the Honors 244R class, Remote Sensing of the Oceanic and Coastal Environment, will present a poster detailing air-sea interactions and sea ice at the Fourth International Conference for Remote Sensing for Marine and Coastal Environment in Orlando.

    “It’s an opportunity for undergraduate students to experience what the

    professional scientific community is like,” said Tina Wyllie-Echeverria, a part-time faculty member at BYU and a research scientist at the University of Washington.

    Tina and her husband, Sandy Wyllie-Echeverria, a research analyst from the school of Marine Affairs at the University of Washington, are visiting BYU this semester to teach the Honors 244R class.

    “Because of our involvement with these international scientific conferences, we are aware of the valuable experience these students will have by working with the scientists in Florida,” Sandy said.

    The students will present a poster about detecting the sea ice edge. This experience will be valuable because they will also get feedback for their scientific contribution, Sandy said.

    The students have studied different aspects of sea ice formation such as how far it extends south and when it melts. After it melts the water is fresher and colder. When the ice sinks, it forms a cold pool and affects the distribution of fish — especially walleye pollock fish.

    This particular fish is used for most imitation fish, such as fish sticks and imitation crab found in the store.

    If the area where the sea ice formations melt is known, then the location of the fish can be detected. This is important because during the winter, clouds prevent the analysis of the sea ice edges. Usually the scientists have to wait for holes in the clouds.

    David Long, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, worked with the honors student project to supply them with data from the NASA scatterometer. The NSCAT measures from space the winds over the ocean. The NSCAT’s signal can penetrate the clouds.

    “The NSCAT is a good method to use in analyzing the edge of ice,” said Benjamin Jordan, a junior from Roosevelt majoring in geology. Jordan is one of the 16 students who will present the findings.

    The students’ trip is sponsored largely by a grant from the National Science Foundation and departments at BYU. Many faculty members in addition to Long, Tina and Sandy assisted in obtaining the grant. Perry Hardin of the geography department at BYU and Jim Schumacher of the Pacific Marine Environmental lab at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle, Wash., also helped with the proposal.

    Sandy and Tina will travel with the students to Florida. They have arranged for the students to go through the Kennedy Space Center. The students will be exposed to marine flora as well as the international conference, Sandy said.

    “We have very much enjoyed our contact with the BYU students. They are

    extremely bright and intelligent,” Sandy said.

    The students’ interaction with the scientists at Florida will show them what BYU is about. It will be a positive experience, and it is so good to see men and women working together in science, Sandy said.

    When the students return from the Florida conference, an open house will be given to display the poster. The students will be available to answer questions about their research and results.

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