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Dr. Galvao Travels to the Arctic with National Geographic

September 2018

Dr. Galvao's Arctic ExperienceEnvironmental and Health Sciences professor Terezinha Cassia de Brito Galvao, Ph.D.,  represented Spelman College during a recent trip to the Arctic with National Geographic. During the expedition, she and other scientists were afforded an opportunity to investigate deep ice covers in Greenland.

According to Dr. Galvao, there is a legitimate concern in the scientific community about the effects of human-induced climate change on the Arctic region, which is likely to be more pronounced in that area than at lower latitudes.

Ice covers approximately 83% of the island (660,000 sq miles) she said, however over 20% of that ice has melted in recent years. The consequences of ice melting are worthy of note because such occurrences can cause sea levels to rise and ocean salinity to decrease which combined can deeply impact ocean circulation.

An Arctic Adventure to Remember and Use to Inspire Students

During Dr. Galvao's "real world global experience," she gathered photos, videos, and knowledge from a wide range of experts that she will use to enrich Spelman's environmental program through a special course offering called "Global Environmental Change and Applications to Environmental Science" (modulus on ice covers).

Dr. Galvao in the ArcticUltimately, by sharing her arctic experience with the campus community, Dr. Galvao desires to inspire and help Spelman students better understand the marvels of the planet. She also wants to make them acutely aware of imminent global temperature changes and the effects they will have.

She believes her in-depth, eye-witness account of the planet's ice wonders will  result in a "transformative experience that will  influence their lives so deeply and motivate them to choose a more sustainable way of life."

Dr. Galvao hopes her experience will provide Spelman students with indelible memories of the College's environmental and health science program.

Start of QuoteWitnessing the natural beauty of vast areas devoid of human presence; disconnecting from the busyness of life due to intermittent, weak internet; and experiencing an environment devoid of visual or auditory pollution, gave me a great sense of serenity and peace, said Dr. Galvao. Additionally, observing the pristine tundra landscape gave me an overall impression of what it  may be like to be transported to a part of the planet that resembles just what the Earth should have looked like thousands of years End of Quoteago. It was was an unforgettable experience. 


Dr. Galvao's Fun Facts:The Majestic Natural Wonder of the Arctic Islands

  • The expedition covered the west coast of Greenland and Canadian Arctic Islands - Baffin and Devon (Nunavut, Canada).
  • Greenland is part of Denmark and covers an area of about 2,166,082 km2, while Nunavut (Canada) covers 1,750,000 km2.
  • The total number of inhabitants for Greenland is about 57,000 (0.03 people/km2) and for Nunavut about 36,000 people (0.02 people/km2).
  • The ice-covered land for Greenland is about 1,802,600 km2, which means that 83% of the country is covered by ice. About 10% of the Canadian Arctic Islands (Nunavut) is covered by ice, which is about 151,057 km2. 
  • The expedition had the opportunity to enter into direct contact with the native people while studying the Arctic tundra biome and the rich geological formations mostly composed of granite-gneiss rocks.
  • The natives of Greenland are descendants of the Early Inuit Culture and preserve many of their traditions, not forgotten after Christianity was introduced to the Island. For example, they preserved a lot of the native customs related to food, marriage, pregnancy, dealing with wrongdoers.
  • There is no jail as we know it in the United States and other countries. Wrongdoers are allowed to keep their jobs and only at night are they required to sleep in a separated house.
  • The native people also preserved the complex language (for example "pisukutaaktuq" means "he is walking a long distance"). 
  • The games adults and children play together, the ajaajaa songs, and drum dances are very interesting.

Learn More About the Arctic

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