Monday, April 16, 2012

Kudos to My Colleagues

Sometimes one forgets that good things happen thanks to the hard work of those around you. Today the entire team had a long, cold day on the tundra, but nonetheless achieved considerable success.

Like yesterday, we dedicated a lot of time to collecting permafrost samples. This is not a job for one person, but instead takes a collective effort to operate the drill rig; insert and extract the SIPRE coring device; collect ancillary data on hole depth; and then bar code and log information in your field notebook. David Graham managed this process well in what eventually involved the assistance of six other people.

All of these activities were especially challenging because of wind and colder temperatures. It was not necessarily cold by Arctic standards, but cold enough to make working difficult. Larry had brought along a simple hand-held device that measures wind speed. He pull this out several times today and watched as wind speeds rose from 10 to 15 to eventually 25 MPH. Temperatures fell throughout the day and the wind chill factor this afternoon dipped to minus 20 F. Thankfully the sun was out and the working conditions did not get too bad.

Throughout the day, we just kept getting quality permafrost cores. Ken Lowe was a big help because of his experience with operating a drill rig. Ken gained this experience working on sites at ORNL and probably never dreamed those same skills would make him a prime asset for the NGEE Arctic project. Craig Ulrich, from LBNL, was also an asset as he located each of the sample locations with great precision. We had obtained some high-resolution imagery of our site from a colleague at the University of Texas, El Paso and using those images, Craig was able to position our sampling points to within a foot or two. Pretty amazing given that the tundra was covered by anywhere for two to maybe three feet of snow.

Our work will continue through the weekend. The Barrow community, however, is having their annual spring festival this weekend. It is called "Piuraagiaqta" and will include everything from a scavenger hunt to snow machine races to a parade that will wind it's way through town. We have been invited by several UMIAQ staff to attend and may be finished with work Saturday in time for the "Nigliq" or the goose calling contest that begins at 5:00pm. And then there is live music later that night by the "Barrowtones". Not sure that either I or my colleagues can stay up that late after a long day in the field, but it does promise to be an exciting and interesting weekend!