Monday, June 18, 2012

Barrow is Warming Up!

The last time we traveled to Barrow, we conducted field studies in temperatures that approached -25F below zero. Today, we stepped off the airplane and were greeted by unseasonably warm temperatures that rose well above 45F. Given that magnitude of a temperature swing over a period of a month,  it should come as no surprise that most of the snow has melted; a sure sign of summer. The other sure sign of summer is the report we received from Tony from UMIAQ when he picked us up at the airport - "We saw our first mosquito yesterday!"

It was a long trip from Boulder to Barrow, but it was good to meet up with my colleagues from ORNL, LANL, BNL, and UAF. We signed in and received a safety briefing from UMIAQ, picked up our vehicles, and unpacked a few boxes that had been delivered earlier.

With 24 hours of daylight, we took our time getting organized, then met with Mark Ivey in the Barrow Arctic Research Center. Mark works with the DOE Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program and has years of experience working in the Barrow area. He has been helpful in locating laboratory space for those in our project who need quality lab space for trace gas measurements, sample preparation, etc. Lab space is at a premium in Barrow and fortunately Mark had space that he was not using and offered it in support of the NGEE Arctic project. Once we discussed safety-related issues of the laboratory, we spent a couple of hours moving in a gas chromatograph, leaf area meter, balance, oven, and miscellaneous field and lab supplies. 

We then drove out CakeEater Road and walked out to the control shed on the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO). This was a good time to look over the field plots and examine the differences in vegetation across the low- and high-centered polygons. During previous trips to Barrow, the ground was covered in snow and today was the first time we got a good look at the snow-free landscape. It will take a few days to sort out our plot design, especially for those working on the vegetation dynamics task of our project. We have a good team, however, and they are up to the challenge.