Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cold, but confident....

Although the weather has been great with bright skies and no wind, the temperatures do seem colder than last year. This morning, the temperatures were -25C, but we were confident that we could operate with few problems under those conditions. Our first job, however, was to secure the drill rig and other supplies to wooden sleds and transport those to the field. This took some time, but by 9:00am we were headed out of the garage and off to the field. Larry, Bob, and Craig drove the snow machines while the rest of us headed south on Cake Eater road in our truck. 

As we made our way across the tundra to our field site, the snow depth appeared less than it did last year. The vegetation that inhabits the raised rims and ridges around the ice-wedge polygons is still visible. Last year, it was buried under a significant amount of snow.
Once we reached our field site, which is several kilometers from the road, we located the sampling sites that Craig and Bob marked yesterday using GPS. The drill rig was easily raised into place and within minutes Ken was coring the first sample. It was good to see that the process seemed to go faster than last year; maybe we have learned a few things given our past experiences. The cores came out of the SIPRE auger pretty much intact which will make our job much easier back in the laboratory.


While the main team was coring, Bob was checking out the network of monitoring sites that he, Bill Cable, and Vladimir Romanovsky established last fall. We have temperature probes at multiple depths along with sensors for measuring soil moisture, heat flux, snow depth, and radiation. All this information will be useful as we parameterize and test our models of permafrost dynamics. A few sensors need to be replaced so Bob will probably spend the next day or two doing that as the rest of us continue to obtain permafrost cores.