Monday, April 22, 2013

A safe and satisfying week in Barrow

Thanks to careful planning and great weather, we had an extremely productive research trip to Barrow. Everyone had a unique skill set that made this a successful week. And although this was her first trip to the North Slope, Taniya adjusted quickly to the exciting, albeit harsh, Arctic environment. We commented several times that while it was cold, the lack of wind kept wind chills to a manageable level.

Our group accomplished a lot on our trip and each day we were able to check off one or more items on the list that David put together before we left Tennessee. In summary, we...

1.  Safely drilled more than 35 permafrost cores from the Barrow Environmental Observatory; these cores will keep Taniya, Beth, and others working on the project busy for months to come,

2.  Built several sections of wooden boardwalk to protect sensitive tundra from foot traffic; we will position these at strategic locations during a trip to Barrow after snow melt,

3.  Saw a polar bear; it was several hundred yards out on the sea ice and we were able to view it from a safe distance courtesy of the North Slope Borough Wildlife Office and Barrow Police, and

4.  Gave a community lecture on the topic of how field and laboratory experiments and observations can help improve climate models.

I was also able to sit down with Eric from UMIAQ and layout logistical needs of others on our NGEE Arctic team who will be traveling to Barrow beginning April 26.  A group of 10 scientists from LBNL, LANL, and UAF will spend two weeks conducting a broad geophysical survey of the subsurface environment at our field sites. They will undertake a series of measurements to better understand local hydrology and lay the groundwork for additional hydrological monitoring that will occur during snow melt.

For now, our team is heading home knowing that we accomplished our goals and that we will soon return to continue our studies in support of improved climate prediction.

Photos by Ken Lowe (ORNL)