Another beautiful, sunny day in the arctic today. Team Squirrel spent the morning at the Atigun River site near the Arctic National Wildlife refuge. There, we downloaded weather station and soil temperature data from permanent data logging probes installed in soil near ground squirrel burrows. This data helps to understand the environmental conditions experienced by the squirrel during the past year. Though the squirrel's body temperature drops to below the freezing point (-2.9 degrees), the surrounding soil gets much colder (-10).
The upper graph shows air temperature. Note that the first low point is the winter of 2013 with a low of -35 dec C. The winter of 2014 was slightly milder. The second graph shows soil temperatures 1 meter below the surface near the depth of squirrel hibernacula. The lows are around -10 C; Again, it was warmer this past winter than in 2013.
There are a number of active pairs of American Golden Plovers in the area. These are one of the record holders for single non-stop migration distance over open ocean as they travel around 2500 miles from Labrador to the northern coast of South America each fall. From there, they continue over the Amazon to the Pampas grasslands of Patagonia.