Aug
16
2011

At World's End

Let's play "Alphabet Soup"! What do you think the acronym PGC stands for?

Plumber's Green Coat.
Public Greeting Ceremony?
Periwinkle Glam Cupcakes??
...Pennsylvania Game Commission?!

It could stand for all of those, I suppose, but today the correct answer is... Polar Geospatial Center.
Old-timey aerial photograph of Antarctica's snowy surface: Photographed in 1947 under Operation Windmill, a U.S. Navy expedition to test equipment, train personnel, and reaffirm American interests in Antarctica.
Old-timey aerial photograph of Antarctica's snowy surface: Photographed in 1947 under Operation Windmill, a U.S. Navy expedition to test equipment, train personnel, and reaffirm American interests in Antarctica.Courtesy Smithsonian Institution

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the University of Minnesota's PGC has supplied maps, logistical support and training to US researchers in Antarctica for over five years. Recently, they’ve had the opportunity to expand their resources to cover the Arctic as well.

*** Beep! Beep! We've interrupted to bring you a not-so-important-at-all notice: ***

Maps are awesome! They're useful for getting from Point A to Point B and many are beautiful enough to frame and hang on your wall. Handy and pretty. What's more to love?? Maps are so great that the author of this post took an entire college course in maps (there was some aerial photography too, to be fair). It rocked her socks.

*** We will now return to your previously scheduled program.***
New-fangled satellite image of Antarctic Peninsula
New-fangled satellite image of Antarctic PeninsulaCourtesy Google and NASA

Some of the maps used by the PGC are originals: newly created for a specific team’s research goals. For example, they’ve used high-resolution satellite imagery to count emperor penguin and Weddell seal populations. By tracking the changes of animal populations, arctic landscapes, and seascapes, the PGC is building a record of the effects of climate change.

Bonus: You don’t have to be a researcher yourself to enjoy the PGC’s map work because they partner with Google to keep Google Maps and Google Earth up-to-date on the Arctic and Antarctic. (Note: You have to download a plugin for Google Earth.)

Happy mapping!

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