Dan Juhlin - Global Implications

by Erica Lind

Dan Juhlin’s university experience does not consist of classrooms and textbooks alone. In addition to taking classes, Dan is conducting hands-on research on a crucial scientific issue that could potentially have global implications.

A Bachelor of Science student with a concentration on GIS, Dan is currently participating in a very unique Applied Study. He is studying the glaciers of the Geikie Plateau in East Greenland, under the supervision of Dr. Hester Jiskoot. “The main objective of the study is to re-do the glacial inventory of Greenland, and to look at changes in these glaciers that have occurred over the years,” says Dr. Jiskoot. To do this, Dan is cataloguing all of the glaciers, assigning an identification code to each of them, and tracing out where they are by using computer programs and looking at satellite imagery.

The Applied Studies program at the University of Lethbridge enables students to obtain credit for hands-on experience at a 2000, 3000, or 4000 level. Students who participate in the program are able to add a personalized dimension to their degrees, enhancing their university experience and making them more employable once they graduate. Work experience is combined with research, creating a diversified learning opportunity.

While conducting his research, Dan recently made an important discovery. “I discovered a Surge-Type glacier in the process of surging,” explains Dan. “Only about a dozen of the hundreds of glaciers in East Greenland have been observed to surge.” Surging glaciers do not have a steady flow but rather go through phases of little to no flow followed by abrupt increases in flow, and only represent about 1% of the world’s glaciers.

According to Dan, this finding is significant because there are ice streams in the Antarctic that behave in a similar way. “By studying one of these small surging glaciers, it’s hoped that insight into ice stream behaviour can be

gained,” explains Dan. “This is important to the scientific community because ice streams replenish the ice shelves in the Antarctic when they break up. This has implications for predictions of global sea level changes as a result of global warming.” Dr. Jiskoot notes that glacial behaviour has an impact on icebergs, which can affect sea levels and, additionally, shipping routes, oil rigs, and northern communities. Because of the many effects of glacial behaviour, Dan’s research is critically important to the scientific community.

“My Applied Study is allowing me to do real research that matters to real people,” says Dan. “The hands-on experience is great because employers look for people who have experience.” He notes that he is also learning valuable research and academic writing skills, and has even co-authored a publication with Dr. Jiskoot in a refereed scientific journal. “This gives [Dan and other students like him] invaluable experience, exposure, and a record that gives them a large advantage in their further studies,” explains Dr. Jiskoot. “This undergraduate student involvement in scientific research is quite exceptional, and a real asset of the University of Lethbridge.”

The skills and experience gained during his Applied Study will help Dan in his application to grad school. In fact, the Applied Study has already allowed him to determine what his grad project will be.

To learn more about the Applied Studies program, please visit the website or drop by the Career Resources Centre located in room AH154, Anderson Hall.