Research scientist and oceanographer Victoria Hill has always been driven by her own curiosity and the possibility of discovery. As a researcher for Old Dominion University, this has taken led her to some of the more interesting — and remote — parts of the earth including Barrow, Alaska and the Barneo ice base, which is located at 89 degrees north and 30 degrees west — in immediate proximity of the North Pole. Before leaving for Barneo last April, Hill packed necessities including her ice boots, extreme cold mittens, down booties, many pairs of thermal socks and her Sennheiser ew 112-p G3 wireless system.
Barneo, a floating temporary ice camp run by the Russian Geographical Society, is accessible by helicopter during the month of April and is noted for its harsh and unhospitable conditions — namely high winds and temperatures that routinely fall below 25 degrees centigrade. Hill, who was there to study the effect of sunlight on the arctic and the rapid retreat of sea ice, was mandated to share her research findings with the general public. So she took A/V matters into her own hands and started a video blog, 'Outreach from the Arctic', which captures the broad scope of her experiences on location.
The resulting video blogs encompass a range of topics that are interesting for a broad range of viewers, including 'non-scientists'. One video discusses her packing and preparation routine, another covers her arrival at Barrow, Alaska - the 'halfway point' and several of the videos are shot from the ice base itself deploying scientific measuring instruments into the ice and then processing lab results. All of her video blogs feature crisp and accurate sound reproduction thanks to the Sennheiser ew 112-p G3 transmitter, receiver and lavalier system Hill relied on to capture the audio.
A Sentinel of Climate Change
"The Arctic is considered to be a sentinel system in terms of climate change," says Hill. "The attenuation of solar energy (light) in surface waters has been identified as one of the key uncertainties in the modeling of Arctic Ocean physical properties, and has been found to significantly impact the simulation of sea ice thickness and upper ocean heat content. This project aimed to directly measure the link between warming of arctic surface waters and the absorption of solar energy."
Hill says she chose the Sennheiser ew 112-p G3 because of its audio quality, ease of use and durability. "My husband, who does A/V production at Old Dominion University, helped me choose the Sennheiser gear. He told me that people will forgive less than perfect video quality, but if they can’t hear the audio clearly, they will not watch it. It has since provided superb sound and has really been played a critical role in my video productions." Hill also notes that her ew 112-p G3 has demonstrated remarkable battery life, which she says is always challenging in the extreme cold.
Inspiring Future Scientists
One of Hill's recent blogs reached a Virgina-based elementary school, which invited Hill to participate in a live Q&A discussion from the Arctic ice base camp via Satellite phone. Hill answered many questions including "How thick is the ice and how do you cut through it?", "What do you eat?" and the obligatory question "Have you seen any polar bears?" — to which Hill replied "Yes", explaining to the children that polar bears are both very cute and very dangerous.
While Hill's research is certainly appealing to her extended community of scientists and researchers, she says kids are among her most inspired audiences: "The kids are very, very interested," she says. "With my videos, they can see and hear what life is like as a scientist and what is involved in the discovery process. I found all of the outreach part very, very exciting."