Characterized by vast amounts of carbon stored in permafrost and a rapidly evolving landscape, the Arctic is an important focal point for the study of climate change. These are sensitive systems, yet the mechanisms responsible for those sensitivities remain poorly understood and inadequately represented in Earth System Models. The NGEE Arctic project seeks to reduce uncertainty in climate prediction by better understanding critical land-atmosphere feedbacks in terrestrial ecosystems of Alaska.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Last Minute Preparations…
Spending the Easter holidays on the North Slope of Alaska has
proved to be a mix of work, work, and a little more work. I spent most of my
time sorting through boxes that were packed and shipped to Barrow last fall,
and getting everything ready for when Craig, John, and Baptiste arrive from LBNL
tonight. They are scheduled to arrive in about 30 minutes. They will
need to go through a mandatory safety briefing and check-in that could take an
hour or so. After that we will gather at the apartment to devise a plan for our
field research that begins tomorrow.
In preparation for field research, the UMIAQ crew did two
things for us today that will accelerate our science. First, the crew pulled
out our Big Beaver drill rig then replaced and checked all engine and hydraulic
fluids. We typically do this every year in order to avoid any problems in the
field. No one wants to check engine fluids at -20F. Scotty is the new mechanic
who joined UMIAQ this year and he made short work by getting the right filters,
draining and replacing oil, and running the engine and hydraulics through their
paces. I purchased and replaced the battery yesterday, so it was great to
finally see the Big Beaver start on the first turn of the key. Thanks Scotty,
and welcome to UMIAQ!
Although we will finish this task tomorrow, we also looked
at a few of the snow machines provided by UMIAQ and thought about our field
requirements for the next few days. We will definitely need a wide-track, more
powerful snow machine for pulling the sled-mounted Big Beaver out to our field
site. We know from past experience that it is heavy and can be problematic to
pull the drill through miles of tundra especially if there are patches of soft
or deep snow.
Several modifications to the sled will be made this year
including the installation of leveling jacks at four locations of the sled. In
the past we have noticed that the sled can be unstable side to side, and front
to back, on less than level ground. Drilling, especially drilling deeper
permafrost cores can be complicated by shifts in the positioning of the sled.
So the leveling jacks should eliminate that concern and give us a safer and
more stable platform from which to drill. Craig and Ken Lowe (ORNL) will be
making those modifications in the next day or two. We’ll be sure to let you
know how those work when in the field beginning on Wednesday.