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Why are Glaciers in Antarctica Important to People who Live in Virginia?

Dr. Ellen Cowan

February 26, 2011
An interactive session led by Dr. Ellen Cowan

Professor of Geology, Appalachian State University

Presentation Slides
KTU Booklet

Geologists know that Virginia wasn’t covered by glaciers even at the peak of the last Ice Age in North America, approximately 20,000 years ago. Yet there are many reasons that we can appreciate glaciers and the work that they do on Earth. Glaciers sculpt beautiful and distinctive landscapes that we see around the world in mountains and in Polar Regions. Antarctica is a vast continent almost completely covered by ice. How has the Antarctic ice sheet responded to past changes in climate? We can use clues from rock layers, fossils and gas bubbles in ice to study the history of Antarctica’s glaciers. With this information we can estimate the affects of a warmer world on Antarctica’s ice and determine the affects far away in Virginia.

Dr. Ellen Cowan is a Professor of Geology at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Her research involves the study of the sedimentary record of glaciers that reach the sea. She participated in two Antarctic research expeditions as part of the ANDRILL Project (ANarctic geological DRILLing) and the Ocean Drilling Program and has conducted research on glaciers in the bays and fjords of Alaska.

February 2011 - Hands-On Exhibits
After the interactive session the students were escorted by their parents to have lunch and then to the hands-on portion of the event. There the students enjoyed the experience of interacting with various exhibits from the Virginia Tech community.

1) "Computing and Gaming Through the Ages" - The Techsupport Community at Virginia Tech

2) "Where in the World Am I?" - Virginia Cooperative Extension Agents, Emily Nester, Tazewell County 4-H; and Daniel Collins, Grayson County 4-H

3) "From 3D Printing to Additive Manufacturing" - DREAMS Lab at Virginia Tech

4) "Looking Down is Looking Up! Why Do We Work with Aerial Photography?" - Dr. John McGee

5) "Trenchless Technologies" - North American Society for Trenchless Technology (NASTT)

6) "Reading the Past: Sequence Stratigraphy with the Po Plain Project" - Museum of Geosciences

7) "Tensegrity and Flying Vehicles" - Dr. Cornel Sultan, Assistant Prof. in AOE

8) Computer Science Community Service (CS2)

9) The Virginia Tech Chapter of Alpha Pi Mu, The Industrial Engineering Honor Society

10) Students used LEGO® MINDSTORMS® to build and program their own robots... with the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems (VaCAS)

11) "Discovering How Buildings Respond to Earthquakes" - Dr. Matthew R. Eatherton

12) Human Powered Submarine Team

13) "Animal Adaptations to Polar Cold" - An exercise from the C2S2 Education Program, ANDRILL Project. Catherine Short, 4-H Extension Agent, King William and King & Queen Counties

14) MicroN_BASE Lab

15) The Virginia Tech Assistive Technologies Department

16) Southwest VATS

17) Sigma Alpha

18) The Virginia Tech Chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB)

19) Virginia Tech's Interdisciplinary Studies Student Organization (IDSTSO)

20) "What is Human Factors?" - Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

21) The Formula SAE Team

22) CanSat at VT

23) The Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team of Virginia Tech

24) "Hot Topics In Cool Science" - ANDRILL

25) "Waiter, There's a Hole In My Wood" - Dr. Daniel Hindman

26) "Balloon Rockets" - Sally Farrell, 4-H Extension Agent

27) "STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) Mobile Learning Lab - STEM ML2" - The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR)

28) "NASA and Climate" - NASA

29) Montgomery County 4-H

30) "The Crumbling of America's Infrastructure" - Dr. Jesus M. de la Garza, a professor of the Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program (VCEMP). Sabina Fedrowitz, a student in the Civil Engineering Department

31) Virginia Career VIEW