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Having grown up in a Portuguese-Canadian-Irish household, and living in a few countries along the way has instilled in me a deep concern for the global impacts of climate change on our ecosystems. Through my academic work I am determined to better understand their severity and scope. During the last year of my undergrad I manifested this interest by looking at how flowering times change in response to temperature, and whether there is an evolutionary pattern to these responses.

My goals for the upcoming course in Svalbard are to learn how to collect functional trait related data and to build a more thorough understanding of how arctic environments function. I will know if I have met these goals if by the time I leave I am both able to comfortably work with the LiCor and to think more critically about functional traits and their roles in arctic environments.

I am excited by the chance to visit and experience the Arctic as it entails the opportunity to broaden my understanding of life and to better grasp the limits that constrain and shape it’s evolution. I am also particularly eager to collaborate with other researchers from an array of backgrounds, and to learn more about the perspectives and approaches they take in their work.

Considering that climate change is estimated to affect the poles at a rate two to four times more rapid than other regions of the planet, I imagine that settlers and visitors in Svalbard may be able to observe the tangible changes and their effects on the landscape in much shorter time frames. While climate change may still be controversial in some places of the world, I expect that the experienced change in Svalbard thus far is beyond dismissal, such that anthropogenic climate change should not be controversial.

In British Columbia the general public seems well informed regarding anthropogenic climate change. There are ongoing efforts at multiple levels of organization regarding identifying and educating people about the effects of this change as well as attempts to mitigate them. Despite the good work thus far, there is still a ways to go, especially when it comes to taking scientific findings and using them to inform the creation of enforced guidelines in both provincial and national policy making.

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