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Reconstructing The Past Climate Of Central Alaska Journals

Journals

June 18, 2013 CELEBRATION, DEPARTURE, AND ARRIVAL HOME....by Seth

One Last Logistical...
On Saturday, we considered heading back down to Anchorage in the afternoon to pick up the U-Haul, but we still had much to do with organizing equipment. So, we continued our packing and gear logistics and planned one more final event. Talkeetna Air Taxi and Denali National Park Rangers and the remainder of our team decided to have a pot luck cookout at Talkeetna Air Taxi headquarters. Erich, Mike, Liz, Sam, and I cooked on available grills as our way of saying thank you to all the folks who helped over the past six years. It was a grand event with beautiful weather. The party went from 6 pm -10 pm on the TAT deck looking out at all the planes on the runway. The owner of TAT, Paul, and his family, were very gracious in providing the space and time to help us host a cookout with...

June 14, 2013 The Final Pack, But Not Quite Home...by Seth

After some final finishing touches that Erich and the others made on the second MET station at base camp (we had the same MET station there from May 2008 to June, 2012), and loading the three large twin otter airplanes with the rest of the gear, the final flights made it down to Talkeetna on a TAT flight. Dave, Brad and I had already taken a shuttle down to Anchorage to pick up a rental car and U-Haul which we would use to go back to Talkeetna for transporting the rest of our equipment and personnel down to Anchorage. In Anchorage, we would use RELO cubes to again return ship our equipment back to New England. We ran into one minor challenge, however. I had reserved a U-Haul and was supposed to get a call back with an exact pick-up location. It turned out that the U-Haul was not...

June 12, 2013 Leaving the Drill Site......by Seth

Time to Leave
It's time to get everything down from Mount Hunter and back to Talkeetna. Wow, did it go smoothly! The plan was for the helicopter to show up around 9:30am and start taking 700-1200 pound sling loads from the Hunter plateau down to Kahiltna Base Camp. From there, Talkeetna Air Taxi was supposed to fly all the cores and equipment back down to Talkeetna. Dave and Tim would fly with the first load from base camp to help move cores and equipment around in town. Mike, Brad, Dom and I would stay on Hunter to create sling loads. Erich, Liz, and Erich’s recently arrived undergraduate student from Dartmouth, Sam, would move sling loaded items at base camp. Sounds simple right? Brad's Tent with some amazing clouds off in the distance over Mt. Huntington on the morning before our final...

June 10, 2013 Some Reflections on a Field Season From Seth

Mount Foraker from Middle Hunter ridge
Tim asked me today how many km of radar data I have from this site and this got me thinking this morning while waiting for Tim and Dave to get picked up. I am on call with the land/air radio, VHF radio, and satellite phone to communicate with Erich at base camp for updates on weather, helicopter status, and when Dave and Tim may leave. The sling loads are ready to go and Dave and Tim are packed so now I can sit here and either process MORE data OR write a blog to update everyone. My eyes are tired of looking at radar data on the computer and I feel that a blog might be in order...so a blog it is... Tim got me thinking… I am closing in on two total months of time up here at the drill site between this year and two of the seven previous seasons I’ve had here in Denali. The grand total...

June 8, 2013 Team Shave.....and a little science update

Tim Before
Seth sent me some news yesterday. They will be dismantling the core camp on Mount Hunter in the next day or so and are now waiting for good helicopter weather to move the cores to base camp. I have asked Seth to keep sending any pictures he can, but we need to understand that this a crucial time for the team. The stress of drilling is over, but the stress of getting the cores safely to Colorado has just begun. With big transitions afoot for everyone it looks like it was time for some spiffing up. Tim Before Yes there was a face in there after all. Photo Credit: Tim Pretty sporty looks for Tim, Seth, Brad and Dom. I guess Dave wasn't that hairy as he is not in the shot. Photo Credit: Seth Almost there! 185 meters on core # 2! The team is HOPING for one more day of drilling to...

June 8, 2013 Okay...So a Little Fun is Necessary from Time to Time

Mount Hunter Summit is a pretty mellow 40 minute ski from the drill site. We pretty much needed to do it. Enjoy the picture. Mount Hunter summit shot: Seth, Tim, Dave, Brad & Dom. Photo by Seth Campbell

June 7, 2013 Some Not So Final Reflections -- Because That's Pretty Impossible & Some Favorite Pics

Flowing Clouds
"Final Thoughts" just doesn’t work as a title for some reflective writing about my time on the Kahiltna Glacier, because my guess is that I will continue to debrief the PolarTREC experience in my own head for weeks, months and perhaps even years. The acclimatization climb on Kahiltna Glacier went beyond my wildest dreams. Since I was traveling to something that was totally beyond my scope of understanding and experience I really had no expectations, only intense anticipation. I really had no clue as to what I was up against. What is real, however, is that I know that my perspective and outlook on life have been permanently changed and the sheer magnitude of Denali continues to take my breath away. It's my belief that you can't stand at a place like this and not be changed in some way...

June 6, 2013 We're Not Done Yet

Dave drilling a shallow core from one of the pits.
Well things are still going pretty well minus three feet of fresh snow over the past few days. With the winds we ended up with some pretty nice snow drifts in camp, one almost completely covered Dom's tent by the morning of the 4th. The snow fencing was on the west side of camp to catch the prevailing wind (but storm winds AGAIN came from the east = snow fence is useless so far!). We are all looking forward to the MET station data to see if the year Dom and I were up here was an anomaly when all the storms came from the west or if this year is a wacky one! The sun poked out today which allowed the outside team to finish off our last shallow ice core drilled by hand. (I am calling the teams the inside and outside teams now; Inside team = Mike, Dom, and Brad drilling the deep core and...

June 2, 2013 SUCCESS AT THE DIVIDE, by Seth

Reaching Bedrock on the Divide
Well, the big news as of yesterday was that Mike, Brad, and Dom successfully drilled to bedrock at the ice divide for a total depth of 208.24 meters! Our goal was 200 meters which means we surpassed that goal and can still see some nice layers in the ice. Dave, Tim and I also hand drilled a shallow 16 meter core over the last of couple days that we will use to create an estimate of spatial variability of accumulation. Think about snow falling in a forest... Some areas have really deep snow, others have almost no snow... glaciers can be pretty similar so we want to know if there is any big spatial variability of snow accumulation over the divide which will be important for core analysis and future predictive models. SO.... today is a big day off for all of us. We are all tired...

May 30, 2013 I Bet You Thought We Were Kidding About The Ice Cores....

Mike at work in the drill tent
Hi Everyone, I'm now home in Maine and have had a great first few days back in the classroom. I'm not at school tomorrow, however, as I am taking a group of 8th graders on a backpacking trip in the New Hampshire White Mountains for the weekend. It's going to be quite warm....in the 80s. My wife made a great comment earlier tonight...that I have had more than a 100 Degree F shift in temperature between now and the coldest night on the acclimatization climb. Seth was finally able to send some pictures from the Mount Hunter Ice Divide that show a little bit about the drilling operation, and yes, there are some shots of the core. It sounds like the work is going well and my guess is that they might be done one 750 foot core and will now work for another one. I hope they don't run out...

May 29, 2013 Pining For Pictures, But For Now -- The Art, Science And Non-Science Of Drilling, by Brad Markle

Hello! Right. So, one question that you, the Internet Reader, may have is, "How does ice core drilling actually work?" I know I had that question, and this is supposed to be my job. It turns out it's simple, really. We have a big drill and we core ice with it. "Oh, great. Thanks, Brad. That was really helpful. You're really good at blogging." Calm down. You want more details? Fine. There are three of us on the drilling team, Mike The Driller, Dom (a graduate student at Dartmouth), and myself, Brad (I'm a graduate student at the University of Washington). Mike drills, Dom and I help him as we can, and look after the ice cores (the precious!) when they come out of the ground (which is in fact ice as well). Let's set the scene a bit. The drill is set up inside a giant dome tent so that we...

May 28, 2013 Waiting For Pictures, But Dreams Do Come True, by Tim Godaire

My adventure started over 9 months ago when I began graduate school at the University of Maine.  Within the first couple weeks of the semester my advisor, Dr. Karl Kreutz, asked if I would be willing to join the scientific expedition to Denali National Park planned for April-June 2013. Without hesitation, I said of course!! The nine months to follow were full of course work, research and preparation for the trip. One of the tasks I took on was becoming the weather station "expert." The goal was to install an automatic weather station near the drill site on Mount Hunter capable of recording the weather over the course of one year, and entirely powered by solar.  I had to first determine which meteorological parameters we wanted to measure.  After discussion with Karl we decided on the...

May 27, 2013 Ice Core Science -- From the Ice Core Site, by Dom Winski, Dartmouth PhD Student

Ice Core Science or Food Science
This is Dominic Winski, a graduate student working on the Denali ice core project. We recently received a bunch of great questions from a high school science teacher and her students via satellite email.  I will do my best to answer them below: How accurate are the ice cores? The accuracy with which we can reconstruct past climates from looking at ice cores depends on several different factors.  First of all, we can learn about many kinds of climatic information from ice cores such as past temperatures, precipitation, and wind circulation among many other things. To learn about each of these variables, different methods are used, so the accuracy of the ice core depends in part upon the research question.  Other factors such as the resolution of the record (how thick a year's worth of...

May 25, 2013 Lots of Help and a Big Hearty Thank You to Many People -- from Seth

A topic I have considered writing about for a while is simply a dedication and thank you to everyone who helped us reach this field season after nearly ten years of effort.  The primary NSF grant providing finds to extract the ice core was given to three professors, Erich Osterberg (Dartmouth), Karl Kreutz (UMaine), and Cameron Wake (U New Hampshire). It is based on a significant amount of work by 22 other people who have participated in the fieldwork over the past six years, several other small funding sources, thousands of hours of volunteer time, and even money out of our own pockets.  Cam and Karl dreamed up this project almost ten years ago after working in the coastal mountains of Alaska.  Their thought was to study differences in precipitation, pollution, temperatures, and other...

May 24, 2013 Another Weather Day, but Drilling is Progressing Nicely -- From Seth

Well, the weather today has been mostly white out, windy, and snowy which means any work outside is challenging and cold. Also, it's not worth risking traveling around the divide with poor visibility. The divide itself is fairly safe but there are large, mile high drop offs to the east and west and there are also some crevasses approaching those areas.  To the north there is a pretty big ice fall.  Although not a particularly active ice fall, venturing too close to it in poor visibility could be dangerous as we have seen some small debris avalanches come off the fall. Dave and I opted to stay in camp today and do some odd jobs while Brad, Dom, and Mike continued drilling. Dave tightened all the tie downs for our tents which must be done every couple of days to make sure wind storms don...

May 23, 2013 Six Days of Waiting! From Seth

MET Station
After Karl and I made it to the ice divide on May 15th, we finished the final drill site selection within about 24 hours and were ready for the rest of the crew and equipment to come in via helicopter.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had different plans.  Over the next two days, May 16-17th we received about 2-3 feet of fresh snow with winds ranging between 20-30 miles per hour and gusts we think up to 50 mph.  Weather reports that we received via satellite phone from NOAA which are specifically designed for Denali near and above 14,000 also called for temperatures dropping to about -25 F at night.  By the end of the 18th equipment was entirely buried by at least a foot of snow which took us half a day to clear away.  The 18th and 19th were sunny and clear but high winds remained which made...

May 22, 2013 Two People to the Drill Site -- From Researcher Campbell

Helicopter at the Mt. Hunter Ice Divide
Following the acclimatization climb, on May 15th Karl Kreutz and I took a National Park Service Helicopter flight to the Mount Hunter Ice Divide.  Andy was our pilot as he has been for several other trips around the park over the past 4 years.  Tucker, a climbing ranger for the park, acted as helicopter manager with a role of keeping us safe during the flight.  The plan was for Karl and I to finalize the exact drill site location within 5-10 feet and then locate our camp.  Our science and camping equipment weighs about 9000 pounds and in order to minimize gear hauling by hand we want the helicopter to place it precisely.  The helicopter must transport thirteen 700 pound sling loads worth of gear from base camp to the drill site over the course of a day.  So, once the helicopter dropped...

May 21, 2013 Why Acclimatization Matters, by Seth

Slow and Steady
Ken has departed us and returned to Maine.  His time with us in Denali National Park was a fantastic experience both for Ken and the rest of us.  For Ken and I the highlight was certainly reaching the satellite peak on the West Buttress route at over 13,000 feet above sea level.  What an experience to bring my grade school science teacher to such an amazing place!  Several days have passed since Ken departed and much has happened so I will try to bring you all up to speed.  We have all acclimatized for working at high elevation and are officially into our science portion of the project with a goal of extracting an ice core that covers over 1000 years of climate record from a place we call the Mount Hunter Ice Divide located at 13,000’ above sea level. Ken participated in a necessary and...

May 20, 2013 Narrated Panorama Video from 13,400

Teacher and Teacher
High speed internet is allowing me to go back a little bit and do some additional work on past days....I hope I don't confuse folks, but there is much to share. So, on the final push from Camp 11,000 to hit the altitude necessary to maximize the effectiveness of acclimatization Seth and I ended up on a little satellite peak above Windy Corner. We climbed up to the summit and inched our way as far as the cornice would allow. As mentioned in a previous Journal, Windy Corner is the beginning of the Kahiltna Glacier and the terrain offered us a great opportunity to crampon up to revel in great 360 degree views. I hope you enjoy the video. The picture following the video is just a shot of the two of us, teacher and former student on this little no named peak. Actually, though, the reality...

May 18, 2013 Fortuitous Final Day on Glacier and Riding Shot Gun

From out of the cockpit
My final day on Denali's Kahiltna Glacier, Saturday, was chock-full of surprises with a very cool icing on the cake at the end of the day. I had told Lisa, the Base Camp manager, yesterday to put me on the flight out list and at about ten o”clock this morning she yelled, “Everyone flying out today needs to get ready.” There was lots of motion and pretty soon five or six teams and a few individuals were lined up along the edge of Base Camp waiting for various flights. The weather was breaking, but the situation was indeed marginal as the two day storm was slow to dissipate. Sometime late morning about four planes made it to Camp in a mad rush, one with Erich and Liz,...

May 17, 2013 Play Date for Runway Maintenance

My home at Base Camp.
It's day two of a snowstorm here at Base Camp and I must say that life is nothing like my routines at home. The length of the day really kind of messes matters up. My home at Base Camp. We typically have breakfast at about 11:00 with lunch being mid to late afternoon. Lunch yesterday was at 4:00 and then the final meal of the day happens at about 9:00 or even a little later. Last night, Thursday, we hung around the cook tent until about 11:30 playing Hearts. It finally got almost too "dusklike" to see the cards very well, but it never really got dark. This morning, Friday, Cameron announced at our pancake breakfast that we had a "play date" at noon with the Base Camp Manager, Lisa, to help pack down the runway. It was quite the event. 40 or more people went out to the runway...

May 15, 2013 Catch-up Day and Helicopter Safety Briefings

Helicopter on Stand-by
Today back at Base Camp was quite fascinating. I got to meet some of the helicopter crew members and pilot that will be ferrying people and gear from Base Camp to Mount Hunter. Seth always introduces me as his grade school science teacher and it always elicits a "very cool" from the person getting the introduction. After that there are always a few very cordial wise cracks about former student and teacher going back over twenty years. It is very special indeed and I am fortunate to be here. The Park helicopters are worth chatting about briefly. They are very basic and utilitarian as they pretty much move people and gear around Denali National Park. They even have the second front seat removed as they can use that space for gear. The "helos" are supplying the air support and delivery...

May 14, 2013 Frigid Wakeup and 10 Mile Ski

Listen below: Sorry, flash is not available.

May 14, 2013 Satellite Communications are Intermittent

Tent City at 11,000ft
11,000 ft Camp Ken Williams is near 11,000ft camp with the team on the acclimatization climb. Ken was able to send a very short satellite phone call earlier to say that the connection was poor at camp. He would try to reach us all again in the near future, as the team continues to ascend. Below are photos sent by the team members that show the approximate location of where they are currently. Photos are from the 2012 and previous field work that has led up to the current expedition. Thanks for staying tuned in! In addition to the team doing scientific research, there are mountain climbing teams also taking the same route to ascend Denali. You can see folks heading up the mountain on the left side of this photo. Motorcycle Hill at about 11,000ft. While in transit, the team will often...

May 13, 2013 Camp 11,000 [Audio Journal]

Listen below: Sorry, flash is not available.
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