After trudging through tussocks, puddles, and muck, traversing tens of kilometers of tundra, and probing hundreds of thaw depths, my final CALM grid was visited today. As if each grid in Prudhoe, Toolik, and Barrow served as training, today's sampling in Ivotuk proved to be the most backwoods stretch of North Slope yet encountered. There are no inhabitants at Ivotuk (despite what the sign might indicate), only a few structures erected by a handful of Arctic researchers like the CALM crew. A small Cessna was required to reach our site, located about an hour and a half south of Barrow. The airstrip itself is a long gravel road, put in place by the BLM for mineral exploration in decades past. The sign welcoming those to Ivotuk is right in one regard: 'If you're here,' the sign reads, 'you're still nowhere.'
The sign bidding welcome to all those who happen upon Ivotuk.
Probing went without a hitch. Salmon berries and blueberries were ripe and caribou abounded as we finished recording our measurements. We managed to avoid rain until just before take off.
Fritz, toting his 12 gauge anti-bear weapon, chats with our bush pilot, Nick. Pilots on the North Slope often work 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off, returning to their homes across the state when they are not based out of Barrow.
Back in Barrow, our team prepared for a live 'PolarConnect' event to be held with Schwarz tomorrow morning. I've promised Fritz, Dima, and Kelsey a pot of coffee for rising at 6:00 am to chat live with our students in New Orleans. I also began compiling ideas for the 'Schoolyard Lecture Series' talk I'll be giving to the Barrow community on Saturday. While collecting images to incorporate into slides, Dima offered to create a projection of active layer depth using data we had taken earlier in the week. The image below represents the thaw depth for a site here in Barrow. The yellow and red represent the deepest active layer depths.
The x and y axes represent the geographic coordinates of the plot. The z axis depicts the depth of thaw in centimeters.
The core of our cadre has begun to head out: Anna, Elliot and Ellen arrived safely in Fairbanks after finishing their data collection in Prudhoe and Toolik. They will fly to their respective homes tomorrow. We bid farewell to Cathy, who headed back to Nebraska from Barrow this evening. I will be the next to return home, leaving Fritz, Dima, and Kelsey to tackle the remaining sites in Nome in the upcoming week.
But before I go, there are presentations to be made, meat cellars to visit, and an Arctic Ocean to swim. Stay onboard as we finish out my leg of the expedition here at the top of the world.
Question for Students
For researchers with field sites all over the world, it is often a complex endeavor to coordinate a live conference. As could easily happen given the projections of each CALM crew member, imagine you have a team split between Anchorage, Alaska; Barrow, Alaska; Missoula, Montana; Washington, DC; and Moscow, Russia. If a conference is to be held at 11:00 am Central Standard Time, what is the local time that each participant must be ready to chat in the cities listed above? Visit timeanddate.com for help with local time zones.
Weather in Barrow
High: 44 degrees F
Low: 38 degrees F
Precipitation: none (despite sprinkling in Ivotuk)
Sunrise: 5:36 AM
Sunset: 11:21 PM
% Humidity: 96