As western Virginia digs out from the latest winter storm, an 18 person team from Radford University is digging through sea ice near Barrow, Alaska.

The trip is the latest step in an eleven year research effort to measure Arctic sea ice. The team includes instructors and students from Radford University and the Southwest Virginia Governor's School.  The team is split in half and each spends a week in Barrow.

Physics professor Rhett Herman is leading the team.  "The bottom line is we've been trying to investigate and see if there's a correlation between the temperature at the surface of the sea ice and the thickness of the sea ice," Herman told WDBJ7. Ultimately, the team hopes to determine if thermal imaging cameras could be used to estimate the thickness of the ice.  That could help find ways to save the ice or determine ways to eliminate it.

The team also includes two student teachers.  They are using Skype technology to present live science lessons to K-12 classrooms back in Virginia.  "We begin by introducing who we are and what we're doing," Erica Martin told WDBJ7 in an interview from Barrow.  "And we ask them what the time is there. What the temperature is there.  And then we tell them what it is here and then their minds are blown."

Click here to learn more about the research.