July 17, 2012 Goin' Buoy Huntin'
Akin to such masterpieces of the small screen as American Loggers, Swamp People, and Ice Road Truckers, I'd like to think we could have our own field-based reality tv show. Maybe 'Climate Chronicles' or 'Survivor: You've Never Heard of Here.' We've certainly got the personalities, the daily toils (I now know it is John putting rocks in my bag), and each day's objectives could fill a season no problem. Today's episode: Goin' Buoy Huntin'
The morning started off as usual but with fried eggs from Frederick that sent everyone into a frenzy. With the night before being spent working up stream discharge data it was decided the morning would begin officially with an after breakfast meeting to discuss progress, potential student project ideas, review some of the exciting, recently recovered data, and make plans for the afternoon. That being said (and done), we made our way out to the garage to take off for the field around 11. Hike, talk ideas, wave at reindeer…lunch at the boat launch at 12:15. From there we loaded the boats and shuttled the UNIS AG212 students over to the karst area for their days work and planned our attack for retrieving the last of the buoys/moorings in the lake while taking in the beautiful sunshine.
Sunshine, exit stage east. Temperatures dropped fairly quickly and we lost our sun shortly after lunch. Weather has a way of turning rather rapidly in Svalbard and the forecast means nothing i.e. partly cloudily has a serious multiple personality thing going on. Donning our rain suits, GPS receivers, and large radio antennae we set to work finding out sub-surface instrumentation. Lo and behold, we had luck but not without passing buoys over many times and spending long periods of time with our eyes on the water.
We love this stuff though. Finding moorings unexpectedly has all of the excitement of a fish spooling your reel while trolling (yet none of the protein).
With each mooring we would bring in all of the gear to the boat, unclip the unwieldy items and run the sediment traps to our storage area behind the southern boat launch cabin.
At the launch area, we have a protocol that involves carefully noting where each probe came from on the lines and recording the information religiously into the field notes. Field notes are your friends for so many reasons when you are back home and trying to figure out just exactly which set of data your dealing with (often prior to thesis deadlines).
In the next close-up picture you can see that the temperature probes run continuously down to the anchor of the mooring to provide bottom depths of the lake. The probe that sits on top of the rock is usually labeled with the mooring letter (A-I in the lake) and then TOR (again top of rock). There is also a BOR probe on each string that basically sits in the uppermost sediment of the lake to provide a sediment temperature rather than just strictly water temps.
With the last of the probes found for the day we headed to get our AG212 friends at the designated site and a minor catastrophe occurred. Earlier in the morning we'd noticed a crack in the propellor of the big boats 25 hp outboard but figured it would either hold or not. Well, not won.
Luckily it happened just as we'd finished the work for the day so we were able to tow the larger boat (the bus as we refer to it) back by the smaller red boat (the taxi). The other name for the red boat has been the "Outreach Boat" as I'm usually snapping pictures away in it while the buoys are being dragged in by the REU students in the 'bus.' Today, the Outreach Boat lent a hand and all made it to supper.