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Student Journalist Going to Greenland on a Paid Internship...
Her Thoughts Before She Left on the Trip.

By Eve Lamborn

I’m going to Greenland this summer and I’m getting paid to do it. That thought sometimes occurs to me while I’m daydreaming in class or walking across campus, and then I’ll pinch myself and realize that it’s actually true.

A chance reading of a job posting last winter has resulted in summer plans that are so unreal that I relish telling my friends about them because I love watching their reactions.

"Did I tell you I’m going to Greenland this summer?" I’ll ask, sliding the question into conversation. "I didn’t tell you? Well, I’m going to Greenland this summer."

I let the statement hang in the air, dripping with the need for explanation, as my friends take a moment to process this unexpected revelation. Disbelief, confusion and surprise are simultaneously written across their faces during this long pause.

Then I’ll nonchalantly explain it’s part of a science-reporting internship I snagged at the beginning of this semester. The people I’m working for routinely travel to Greenland to study polar ice sheets, and I’m coming along for the ride, courtesy of NASA. I try to play it cool when explaining my very cool summer job, but my excitement is hard to disguise. In a few weeks, I’ll be in a place few people even dream about visiting.

Sea levels have been rising over the last century. Because 60 percent of the world’s population lives in coastal areas, rising oceans could have potentially catastrophic long-term consequences. Scientists think melting polar ice sheets are causing some of this rise, the result of climate change, but much information is needed to confirm this theory.

This is where the KU scientists contribute. A team of scientists led by Prasad Gogineni, distinguished professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Kansas, received an $8.7 million, 5-year grant from the National Science Foundation and NASA last fall to develop a mobile sensor that measures polar ice sheets. They received the grant to gather data about polar ice sheets that will be used to gain a greater understanding of the way the ice sheets are changing over time and how much they are contributing to the rise in the water level in the world’s oceans.

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