Sun, Plants, and Mosquitoes

Today was a beautiful day in the Arctic; blue skies and fifty degrees! I could get used to this!

We spent the whole day trapping and covered lots of ground since two more members of Team Squirrel arrived yesterday and will be joining us for a week. Dr. Loren Buck, one of the principle investigators on this project, and Jeanette Moore brought the lovely weather with them. Hopefully it won’t leave with them, too!

Research sign
Sign at the edge of our research site at Atigun River

The shift in weather means that the mosquitoes are coming out too, so I used my super heavy-duty insect repellent after lunch since mosquitoes swarmed around my head for part of the morning. They left me alone after that, but I don’t think I will be that lucky if the weather continues to be as warm as it was today.

Toolik mosquito
Alaskan mosquito in my hand….It got smacked when it landed on my neck. My hands are a bit orange from cutting copious amounts of carrots.

Jeanette and I trapped together today she shared some of her extensive knowledge about Arctic plants. She pointed out various plants that I have been walking over for days and not really noticing. After she pointed them out and named them, I suddenly saw them everywhere! Funny how that works, huh?

Flower on tundra
One of the flowers Jeanette pointed out to me while setting traps

Here is one of the most interesting ones. This tiny spruce tree is arguably the largest tree on the North Slope of Alaska. We are above the tree line here, meaning that cold temperatures and permafrost prevent trees from growing this far north. But this little spruce tree is trying to make it! Another group of scientists (studying birds) told us that they have been coming to the area for 6 years and the tree has always been there. So, this tiny tree is at least 6 years old!

Small spruce tree
Alicia next to the tallest Spruce tree on the North Slope of Alaska (possibly)

Toolik Field Station
Weather Summary
Sunny and clear
Wind Speed