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Spring Study at Sea

SEA Semester: Oceans & Climate

Participate in groundbreaking climate science research… Voyage from New Zealand to Tahiti in a long, blue-water sailing passage. Contribute to baseline climate research in the South Pacific, a region key to climate science yet relatively understudied. Engage with stakeholders directly impacted by climate change by visiting a variety of Pacific island communities faced with this threat. Hone your science communications skills as you build your climate scientist toolbox!

Overview: Spring 2019 | New Zealand » Tahiti

Voyage Map

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Application Deadline: Rolling Admissions

What?

An investigative climate science semester at sea that examines how the oceans factor in the global climate system, and evaluates technological, political, and economic strategies for a climate-resilient and sustainable future. Build your climate scientist toolbox with this skills- and communication-focused program!

Where?

Cruise Track: Lyttelton, New Zealand » Papeete, Tahiti
Destinations: Lyttelton › Chatham Islands › Raiatea › Papeete
Port stops subject to change.

When?

February 11 – May 4, 2019

Feb. 11 – Mar. 22: On shore in Woods Hole
Mar. 28 – May 4: At sea

Program Highlights

  • Conduct baseline climate research
  • Interpret findings for a broad audience
  • Make a long, blue-water sailing passage
  • Interface with leading climate science and communication experts in Woods Hole

Who Should Apply?

This semester at sea program attracts upper-level students interested in exploring the ocean's role in the global carbon cycle and climate system, as well as investigating the history, challenges and uncertainties of climate-related policies from local to international.

Prerequisites: A minimum of three lab science courses (at least one at the 300-level) or permission from the SEA faculty. Not sure if you qualify? Contact your Admissions Counselor.

Program Description

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Skills Gained

  • Primary literature analysis
  • Proposal development
  • Data interpretation and visualization
  • Communication of science for the general public

Understanding climate change and its associated impacts is the critical scientific challenge of today, and the timely application of this knowledge to public policy is crucial to the future of our planet. This intensive semester invites upper-level science students to develop their understanding of the ocean’s role in climate dynamics and the global carbon cycle while working at the research forefront in under-examined areas of the open sea. From natural climate variability to recent anthropogenic influences to the uncertainties of tomorrow, students develop a strong foundation in global oceanographic processes while examining climate-related phenomena along their cruise track.

Natural hazards and climate-driven changes threaten Pacific island nations, including both New Zealand and French Polynesia. Adapting to these challenges is imperative, and nascent mitigation and sustainability strategies in use on islands offer real opportunities for evaluation and improvement. In this program, students consider policies at regional to international scales, first identifying energy, fresh water, coastal ecosystem, and other resources at risk from climate change, and then comparing scenarios and possibilities across locations. Integrating inquiry, analysis and communication, students will shape place-based policy recommendations, leveraging existing climate response strategies while experiencing various roles integral to stewarding our increasingly complex global environment.

Join this exciting New Zealand to Tahiti voyage, one of SEA’s longest sailing passages, to conduct baseline climate research on the rarely studied sub-Antarctic and subtropical waters of the remote South Pacific. Travel along the edge of the Southern Ocean, a region key to climate science because its dynamic ocean circulation and abundant biological productivity provide a major opportunity for carbon exchange between atmosphere and deep ocean. It’s a true blue-water cruise, reaching over 1,000 nautical miles from land in every direction! At stops in the Chatham Islands and French Polynesia, engage with local communities and investigate climate adaptation and sustainability questions raised during the shore component.

At program’s end, students explore long term ecological and climate research efforts throughout the Society Islands archipelago and present their scientific findings through peer-reviewed poster presentations.

Participate in groundbreaking climate science research… Voyage from New Zealand to Tahiti in a long, blue-water sailing passage. Contribute to baseline climate research in the South Pacific, a region key to climate science yet relatively understudied. Engage with stakeholders directly impacted by climate change by visiting a variety of Pacific island communities faced with this threat. Hone your science communications skills as you build your climate scientist toolbox!

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

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Academic Credit

SEA Semester: Oceans & Climate carries 18 semester hour credits from Boston University for successful completion of the program. To be eligible, students must have taken a minimum of three lab science courses, at least one at the 300-level, or received permission from the SEA faculty.

Course Descriptions

Advanced Oceanographic Field Methods (300-level, 4 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Three lab science courses (one at the 300-level or higher) or consent of instructor.
Tools and techniques of the oceanographer. Participate in shipboard laboratory operations to gain experience with deployment of modern oceanographic equipment and collection of scientific data at sea. Emphasis on sampling plan design, advanced laboratory sample processing methods, and robust data analysis.

Data Communication & Visualization (300-level, 3 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor. 
Information visualization strategies and associated software, emphasizing communication to diverse audiences. Select between geospatial (GIS) and qualitative data foci. Develop graphics and/or multimedia products supporting research projects in concurrent courses. Compile iterative digital portfolio.

Directed Oceanographic Research (300-level, 4 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Three lab science courses (one at the 300-level or higher) or consent of instructor.
Design and conduct original oceanographic research. Collect data and analyze samples. Compile results in peer-reviewed manuscript format and share during oral or poster presentation session. Emphasis on development of research skills and written/oral communication abilities.

Nautical Science (200-level, 3 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
Learn the fundamentals of sailing ship operation, in preparation for direct application at sea. Navigation (piloting, celestial and electronic), weather, engineering systems, safety, and sail theory. Participate as an active member of the ship’s crew on an offshore voyage.

Oceans in the Global Carbon Cycle (300-level, 4 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Three lab science courses (one at the 300-level or higher) or consent of instructor. 
Ocean as carbon source and sink. Examine global-scale flux patterns and carbon storage mechanisms, from solubility/biological pumps to geo-engineering. Explore buffering capacity and mitigation strategies in the face of anthropogenic carbon cycle perturbations. Oral presentation and written research proposal required.

Syllabi

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How to Apply

  1. Complete an application form
    Apply online. (Note: the application fee is waived for students from affiliated institutions. Contact your Admissions Counselor for the code!)
  2. Submit two writing samples (500-750 words each)

    List your full name on each. Submit via email to admission@sea.edu or fax to 800-977-8516.

    1. Two-part essay (500-750 words): Why have you chosen to apply to SEA Semester and what do you expect to gain from your experience? How will the SEA Semester program to which you're applying (The Global Ocean, Oceans & Climate, etc.) complement your education? Be sure to address both questions.
    2. Academic writing sample of your own choosing (2-4 page excerpt if longer than 4 pages). This should be a reflection of your best written work from a recent course, and on a topic applicable to your SEA Semester program of interest (science, history, environmental studies, literature, etc.). Please include your name and the context of the sample (course title and brief description of the assignment). Poetry or college entrance essays may be submitted only as a secondary sample.
  3. Request and submit transcripts
    Official college transcripts are required for all applicants. E-transcripts must be emailed to admission@sea.edu. Hard copies must remain sealed and be sent directly from your institution to:

         SEA Office of Admissions
         P.O. Box 6
         Woods Hole, MA 02543

    High school transcripts are required for students who have not yet completed two years of college. They may be unofficial and submitted via email to admission@sea.edu or by fax to 800-977-8516.
  4. Submit two (2) undergraduate academic references
    Both should be from undergraduate level instructors; at least one should be from an instructor (i.e. professor, academic advisor) who has taught you within the past year. We also welcome additional references (i.e. coach, academic, personal, etc.). The online application will provide a link to email the reference form to your professors directly. If you require a PDF version, please click here.
  5. Schedule an interview with your Admissions Counselor
    Interviews may be conducted over the phone or in person, depending on the Counselor’s schedule. Topics of conversation may include life at your college/university, academic and extracurricular interests, transition from high school to college, your expectations for life at SEA, and how you learned about our program. The interview is also a great opportunity for you to ask questions about SEA.
  6. Submit the Student Participation Approval Form to the appropriate authority (study abroad office or academic advisor) on your campus
    This form is accessible through our online system and ensures that you go through the appropriate channels at your school for off-campus study approval (if applicable) and credit transfer. If you're not sure who to contact on your campus, ask your SEA Admissions Counselor.

​Apply for a Passport: Please note that all SEA Semester students must have a valid passport - NOT a Passport Card - before joining the program.

Apply for Financial Aid: If you plan to apply for need-based financial aid, download a financial aid application (pdf) and submit it with your application for admission.