Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A New Field Season Begins in Barrow…

It has been almost 5 months since we were last at our NGEE Arctic field site in Barrow. During that time air temperatures dipped to -35F in late December, but otherwise have been mild for locations throughout the North Slope of Alaska. NOAA reports that January was unseasonably warm across much of Alaska.

Although warmer than average, we still expect cold temperatures and snow as we conduct field work during the April 16 to May 4, 2014 period. I will arrive in Barrow ahead of others for a two-day meeting of the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO) Science Advisory Board. The BEO is approximately 7,500 acres of pristine tundra that the Native Village Corporation set aside for national and international Arctic research. It is a tremendous resource and one used by many research projects, including NGEE Arctic. Once the BEO Science Advisory Board meeting concludes, then I will be joined by other scientists from Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. As we have done before, this group will undertake almost two weeks of field research that will include geophysical characterization of land across the BEO, sampling of deep permafrost using a hydraulic drill rig, and then preparations by our team of hydrologists for the upcoming spring snowmelt.

If you are new to the NGEE Arctic blog – welcome! You might be interested to know that Barrow, 330 miles north of the Arctic Circle, holds the distinction of being the northernmost city in the United States. It is also listed among the top 10 northernmost settlements in the world. Barrow has been home to Native Inupiat people for over 1,000 years and was named after Sir John Barrow, an English statesman and writer. Barrow is ca. 1,300 miles south of the North Pole.

In addition to our two weeks of field research, we will also be hosting (hopefully) a live Google Hangout broadcast from Barrow on April 24, 2014. Join us for that if you can. I will be sure to post details as that date gets closer and as details are finalized. We expect to broadcast live from the field as researchers conduct geophysical surveys using snow machines and collect cores of frozen soil or permafrost using a sled-mounted drill rig. We will be joined by scientists from two research labs in California. Plans also include talking about research in the Arctic, live with students from two high schools, one in Berkeley, CA and another in Anchorage, AK.

Stay tuned as it looks to be a busy trip as the NGEE Arctic project begins our third year of research on the North Slope of Alaska.