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Spring Field Trips
Abu Dhabi spring 2010
A group of 58 Terrascope students, alumni mentors, and staff spent spring break in Abu Dhabi learning first hand about the oil-rich country's ambitious plans to develop renewable energy. This visit was part of students' year long study of ways to combat the global rise in CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels that contribute to global warming. Abu Dhabi was chosen as the site for the annual field trip because of the ambitious goals of country's Masdar Initiative with its strong focus on sustainability and the development of renewable energy technologies. As carbon management is a key component of the Masdar Initiative, Terrascope students traveled to the United Arab Emirates to see first-hand the work being done there to develop relevant new technologies. The group was hosted for much of the visit by the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a graduate educational institution dedicated to researching alternative energy, environmental technologies and sustainability. They attended presentations by faculty on topics related to carbon management and renewable resource development. Terrascopers also learned about ambitious plans to develop Masdar City as a zero-carbon, zero-waste city powered by renewable energy. A tour of the construction site provided a chance to learn more about plans for development of the area and to see current testing of new technologies. Students also visited The Petroleum Institute, dedicated to engineering education and research in areas related to oil and gas energy industries, and attended talks by executives of the government- owned Mubadala Development Company to hear about Abu Dhabi's plans for diversification and growth of its economy. Other highlights of the packed 5-day visit included a field trip to the Sabkha or coastal salt flats. Guided by a geologist from The Petroleum Institute, students examined the different layers of deposits in the flats and learned how microbial mats along with other layers will eventually form petroleum deposits. To learn more, check out their blog.

Arizona spring 2009
In 2008-9 Terrascope students focused on the impending water crisis in the arid regions of western North America. During spring break, students augmented their more theoretical work with a week-long trip to southern Arizona. Here they were briefed on water issues in the Phoenix area by the Salt River Project and the Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Arizona Project (CAP). In addition, they visited the Salt River Canyon and a white water rafting experience. In Tucson they saw how CAP water is being stored in thick aquifers to reduce dependence on groundwater and how treated sewage effluent is being used to rebuild indigenous riparian habitat. The students also visited the Gila River Indian Community and were able to gain the perspective of the native people who were irrigating the land for hundreds of years before the explosive growth of Phoenix. A trip to Yuma Arizona allowed the students to get a tour of a giant desalinization plant and to better understand the issues of the Colorado River and how the U.S. and Mexico must share it. This also included a jetboat ride on the Colorado River, a visit to the All-American canal, and the Imperial diversion dam. The latter two allow California’s Imperial Valley to irrigate the rich farm land. See photos here

Iceland spring 2008
The Terrascope class of 2007-8 focused its year's work on investigating the dire state of global fisheries, and proposed better management strategies for improved sustainability. During MIT's spring break, students visited the North Atlantic nation of Iceland to see first hand how fisheries management policies that are often hailed as a model of effectiveness work in this country. They also were able to test their own ideas developed in the preceding fall on how to manage best fisheries. The group met with fishermen, fish processors, government officials, university researchers, and others, including individuals involved in the controversial whaling industry (legal in Iceland). They also visited sites associated with Iceland's program in sustainable energy development, and explored Iceland's geologically volatile landscape. See photos here

New Orleans 2007
The charge to the 2006-7 Terrascope students was to propose a plan for the future of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In spring, students visited New Orleans to view first hand areas of devastation. They heard first hand accounts of residents' experiences during Katrina, as well as their views on proposed plans for redevelopment. They also met with representatives from the Mayor's Office, Army Corps of Engineers, and others who explained the unique social, political, and geological environment of the Gulf Coast Region. The field week included exploration of the Mississippi River by boat, and an overnight visit to the Lousiana bayou. See photos here

Chile spring 2006
In 2005-6, Terrascope students were charged with developing a comprehensive plan for tsunami preparedness in a Pacific location that faced a future threat. After presenting their proposal for an early warning system at the end of the fall semester, students followed up their study with a visit to regions of coastal Chile to test their ideas. Students visited Chilean coastal areas near Valdivia to see first hand signs of devastation from the 1960 earthquake and resulting tsunami, as well as to examine the early warning system put in place by the Chilean government. Students visited with survivors of the tsunami to hear about their experience of 50 years ago, and met with with engineers, scientists, researchers, and others during their week-long visit. The trip also included visits to cultural and historical sites, a river rafting trip, and a climb to the top of Villarica Volcano. See photos here

Galapagos spring 2005
Many people are concerned that increases in tourism and fishing are destroying the pristine environment of the Galapagos archipelago. In 2004-5, Terrascope students were asked to identify the dangers facing the Galapagos ecosystem, and propose a plan for ensuring its future. During spring break, students visited the Galapagos, Ecuador, to see first hand the region they had studied during the previous semester. Students visited local residents and learned about their ties to the region and their economic needs. Their week included a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station to hear about ongoing scientific work on the ecology of the Galapagos Archipelago. They also experienced the unique physical environment of the area from both land and sea perspectives. See photos here

Alaska spring 2004
In 2003-4, Terrascope students focused their attention on the controversial plan to develop the petroleum resources in the potentially rich regions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). In spring, students traveled to Alaska as a way to complement their Terrascope experience with first hand experience of the region under study. Their week, centered mostly in the northern city of Fairbanks, included morning lectures given by speakers from around the state and representing a variety of points of view on ANWR, followed by afternoon activities designed to acquaint them with the environment and culture of Alaska. The week included an appearnace before the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce in which they were able to discuss their project in detail. Highlights of the week included evening visits to local families and a trip to Denali National Park. See photos here

Brazil, spring 2003
Terrascope's initial year (2002-3) focused on the ecological system of the Amazon rain forest and ways to combat its destruction. As the highlight of their year's work, students traveled to the Brazilian Amazon to see first hand the problem they had studied in the classroom and for which they had proposed a management plan as the culmination of their fall work. During their week in the region, participants stayed in a research station in the heart of the rain forest to learn more about scientific work being done, explored the region around Manaus (the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas), and met with local experts to acquire a greater understanding of the Amazon rain forest and the social, economic, and political issues involved in protecting and managing the forest. See photos here

The Terrascope program gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Massiah Foundation for the 2010 field trip and the Henry Luce Foundation for trips from 2005 to 2009.