Monday, May 7, 2012

Geophysical Survey Gets Going

We picked up Susan and her team at the airport last night and then celebrated their arrival with dinner at Arctic Pizza. It was then back to Hut 163 to organize and get ready for another day of field research.

The following morning, despite cold temperatures, we were eager to get to the field. However, before we could do that Susan, John, Baptiste, and Alessio had to check in with UMIAQ staff, obtain their BEO land use permits and receive training for operation of snow machines. We stopped just long enough for a group picture. Craig and John then headed across the BEO on snow machines while the rest of us drove to the turnout on Cake Eater road. Craig had a sled full of trail mat which would once again be my task for the day.

The LBNL subsurface science team was in Barrow last September for a geophysical survey of the site just before freeze-up in the fall. They were able to get some great data on active layer thickness and characterize subsurface features using ground penetrating radar (GPR), electrical conductivity,  and other geophysical techniques. That information was used to develop a plan for additional measurements using other approaches. The plan was to conduct measurements along the original 450 meter transect (that we established last fall) and then extend those measurements to the four field plots that encompassed low-, high-, and transitional ice-wedge polygons. Information from a range of instruments would be correlated with other ground-truth data and then spatial maps of subsurface features and properties would be used to initialize and parameterize several fine- to intermediate-scale landscape models. Ultimately, insights gained at these scales would inform climate models.

Much of the day was spent testing instruments and equipment. The team functioned well together with lots of energy, compliments of Alessio and Baptiste. Both Alessio and Baptiste are post-docs, one at LBNL and the other at UAF. Each has a unique set of scientific and technical skills, and both have very outgoing personalities which makes working with them a lot of fun. Last September, Baptiste must have walked 10 miles a day collecting subsurface data using an electromagnetic approach. I sense that this trip will be no exception.

Tonight will be spent downloading data and comparing the various signals coming from one instrument or another. We will also discuss a manuscript that Susan is leading based on data collected last fall. Should be fun...