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Colorado’s Science in the Wild team summits Aconcagua

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DENVER — It really was a team effort. Imagine not only summiting the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, but also doing science along the way.

Standing 22,841 feet high in western Argentina, peak Aconcagua is a multiday climb through high winds, cold temperatures and occasionally snow.

The Science in the Wild team negotiated those elements while carrying scientific equipment and taking measurements.

The team consisted of five members: Ulyana Horodyskyj, Thomas Edunk, Chris Lundeen, Leandro Ignacio and Michael J.

The team is studying the melting glaciers on Aconcagua and using it as a proxy for the surrounding peaks.

“Our measurements of snow crystal size and shape, snow density, air and snow temperatures, wind speed and direction, and black carbon/dust content will be used in computer models to figure out impacts of pollutants on melting of the snow,” Horodyskyj said.

“While we were up there, we witnessed soot and haze from Chile’s wildfires inundating the valley — and no doubt, as that settles on the snow, it will impact the rate of snowmelt. The darker the particles, the more solar radiation they absorb, and the faster the snow will melt.”

The team’s next project will be in the Atacama Desert in South America where it will do an Earth/Mars analog mission.

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