First things first, I’d like to welcome all Schwarz staff and students to the first day of school! I hope everyone has stayed dry through the inclement weather, and that all enjoyed their extra day of summer due to school closings yesterday.

A shot of Schwarz from back home in New Orleans.

Here in Alaska, we left Prudhoe Bay this morning, bidding farewell to the Arctic Ocean just as the weather began to clear up. Our team took two trucks south down the Dalton Highway to Toolik Field Station, where we will be stationed for the next several days.

On the road, we stopped at two different field sites to collect thaw depth measurements. Check out this video to see just how we measure ‘active layer.’

Our drive up to Prudhoe Bay was shrouded with thick fog, and prohibited us from seeing far beyond the primitive road. With the sun out this afternoon, we were privy to grand views of the Phillips Smith Mountains, the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline, and a handful of wildlife sightings. Large mammals, such as caribou and musk oxen were hard to miss. Several caribou had enormous antlers, which I learned are lost by all but pregnant females during winter months. The same applies to reindeer, which are simply caribou that became domesticated by humans centuries ago. So, if only pregnant females retain their antlers during winter, we may want to revisit what we were taught about Rudolph…

Two caribou spotted off the Dalton highway. As the sun was out, so were the mosquitoes. We learned that caribou can loose up to a pint of blood a day due to the pesky insects!

Musk Ox
A musk ox grazes off the Haul Road (Dalton Highway).

Not all signs of animal life were as charismatic as the musk ox or caribou. These probable caribou bones still have remnants of flesh where predators and scavengers didn't quite finish.


After arriving at Toolik, we busied ourselves preparing for a full day in the field tomorrow. Weather permitting, we will take a helicopter to a few sites. Stay tuned to see the flight!

'Til tomorrow,



Question for students:

Why do you think pregnant caribou may keep their antlers through the winter? (Hint: Why do you think caribou, deer, or any other animal has antlers at all?)

Weather for Prudhoe Bay

Convert degrees Fahrenheit to degrees Celsius by the following equation: C = (5/9) x (F – 32)

High: 63 degrees F

Low: 39 degrees F

Precipitation: none

Sunrise: 4:31 am

Sunset: 11:22 pm

% Humidity: 93%

Prudhoe Bay and Toolik Lake, Alaska
Weather Summary
Sunny at last!