Aware of the delicate role that weather plays in our flight plans, we awoke this morning to assess the conditions outside. With the skies clear, the prospects looked good for our second day aboard the chopper.

Toolik Field Station
An arial view of Toolik Field Station, taken from our helicopter. When I asked our helicopter pilot to estimate our visibility today, he answered, 'Limitless.'

Today’s tasks included uploading data from five monitoring stations spread across the area. Each site we visited was distinguished only by one metal tripod, equipped with two small, white objects (a radiation shield and data logger). As you might expect, from a helicopter, these tripods occasionally proved difficult to spot. One of our jobs for the day involved making sure the sites were easily distinguishable for pilots and data collectors in the future.

Marking Tripods
Elliot and Kelsey mark a tripod so it is more easily distinguishable for future pilots and data collectors.

Real Field Work
I get to play in the trees a bit as I mark our data logger for future record taking. This was the only data logger not located on a tripod; positioned in a rare tree stand, the apparatus was fastened to a trunk.

Our primary obstacle in today’s duties involved the data loggers themselves; many of them had been damaged. Large animals including bear, moose, caribou, and fox have a history of scratching and chewing the tripods, shields, and loggers. Dr. Klene and her team have taken precautions to guard against such assaults by encasing wires in metal conduit, and anchoring tripods with rebar. As you can tell by the images below, even these steps failed to protect the equipment entirely.

Tripod down!
This injured data logging station is the likely result of some large fauna scratching. Without many trees in the tundra, the tripods become targets for animals to rub.

Chewed Logger
This data logger near the Ivishak River had its wires completely torn out - likely due to curious animals. We re-installed the logger much higher on the tree in hopes to avoid the same fate next year.

CSI North Slope
Some (likely) moose hair caught in the bark of this tree suggests it was a favorite scratching spot for some animals. It's unfortunate the tree also happened to host our data logger…

What temperature data was recoverable was gathered onto Dr. Klene’s laptop. At each site, we made the necessary repairs to damaged equipment and repositioned some key pieces in attempt to better shelter them from future gnaws and knocks. Although several pieces of apparatus had been chewed on fiercely, the mosquitoes – which yesterday had been ‘chewing’ on us with abandon – were much more tame today. This was largely thanks to the high, windy locations of a few of the tripods.

Field Repair
Josh and Kelsey use duct tap to secure splints to a busted tripod.

After our return to Toolik, we headed to a CALM grid and flux plot located in walking distance from the station. With visibility high, the field provided an excellent view of the Brooks Range, as well as close-ups of local flora and fauna. The active layer monitoring we are conducting is but one of many research projects currently being conducted at Toolik. Evidence of scientists’ projects can be seen via the equipment arranged around the area.

Sik Sik
A sik sik - an arctic rodent found in abundance near Toolik Field Station - stands to greet us as we venture out to gather thaw-depth measurements.

Well camoflauged ptarmigans found outside of Toolik Field Station.

Mushrooms galore
These large (hand sized) mushrooms populated the tundra close to Toolik Lake.

Toolik to Brooks
Toolik Field Station is surrounded by ongoing ecological studies, as these white posts indicate. The Brooks Range stands in the background.

Many researchers have been stationed at Toolik for the bulk of the summer, and several return year after year. Because of this, there exists a tight-knit social community amongst workers here, and every Saturday night concludes with a bonfire. We will have one more day of fieldwork at Toolik before driving back to Prudhoe tomorrow evening.

Toolik Sunset
The best view for the sunset (close to midnight) over Toolik Lake is said to be on top of the Winter Lab building…

See you back in Deadhorse,


Temperature for Toolik Field Station

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


High: 59 degrees F

Low: 38 degrees F

Precipitation: 0 cm

Convert centimeters to inches by the following equation: inches = centimeters x 0.3937

Sunrise: 4:48 AM

Sunset: 11:03 PM

Humidity: Unknown