Friday, May 4, 2012

Plenty of daylight

Jet lag is just one cause of lost sleep when traveling across 4 time zones in a 16 hour period. So too is going to bed at midnight, knowing that the sun is still on the horizon and that daylength in the Arctic is about 21 hours. Either way, I woke up early, made myself a cup of coffee, and ventured out to begin moving trail mat to the tundra. It had snowed last night and the forecast was for light blowing snow and clouds. Temperatures hovered at zero.

As expected, and as arranged with UMIAQ, 8 or 9 pallets of GeoBlock were wrapped, stacked, and ready for transport. These plastic mats are right at a meter in length and arranged 96 per pallet. The mat itself is well deigned and can be placed end-to-end and connected with overlapping tabs and secured with screws.

Tony, from UMIAQ, made the first run of the day after he positioned trail mat on a wooden sled to be towed behind a snow machine. Having snowed last night, the weight of the trail mat tended to weigh the sled down, causing the runners to dig into the snow. It made for a slow pull out to the field site. However, once delivered, Larry and I were able to lay 100 meters of trail mat in about an hour. We both laid out walkways that had a slight curve despite a desire to lay trail mat in a straight line. Oh well, we will correct alignment later.

We also took time after lunch to look into lab space. UMIAQ has lab space available in the Barrow Arctic Science Center (BASC). We have several tasks this coming summer that require access to quality lab space; something that is at a premium in Barrow. As it turns out, a couple of labs are potentially available and we took an hour to look at a few spaces. These are really nice labs with all the standard features of a modern lab complete with eye wash stations, fire extinguishers, and safety showers. It is too early to tell, but we hope that similar space can be secured for our NGEE Arctic project.

Finally, as a complement to available lab space, we have been asking scientists who work in Barrow about common facilities like cold rooms, -80C freezers, and ovens. Ken Hinkel, from the University of Cincinnati, gave us a heads-up on a large upright oven that he has used for drying soils. I located the oven in one of the UMIAQ buildings. It looked well maintained and clean. I turned it on and adjusted the temperature to 70C. The oven worked great. While we may need to purchase a small oven for our use in a lab, this oven is going to be perfect for drying larger soil and plant samples later this summer. We thank Ken for sharing his resources.

We also made progress on installation of water sampling wells. Anna, Cathy, Alex, and Craig evaluated a few options this afternoon and are huddled around the table now deciding on a path forward.   Should be ready to go in the morning; early.