Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Snow Arrives in Barrow...

Although people from the NGEE Arctic project will be coming and going from Barrow throughout the month of September, I leave today on the evening flight for Tennessee. It has been a great trip, first to the Seward Peninsula and then to the North Slope of Alaska. We woke up this morning in Barrow to fresh snow, about an inch. We often comment that “summer” is 90 days in length at this high-latitude location. A quite look back on my notes and albedo records kindly provided by our colleagues at NOAA, suggest that bare ground first appeared this year on June 5 with a snow-free landscape maybe a week later; so just short of a 90 day summer. Hard to believe that biology, at least biology aboveground in the form of vegetation must complete its life cycle in this brief period. Just imagine the challenges of a plant root growing at the permafrost boundary or microbial communities releasing nitrogen through soil organic matter decomposition in this cold, often frozen environment!

As I pack for the trip home, I would like to thank everyone who made this a successful trip. The selection of a series of Phase 2 sites on the Seward Peninsula is a significant milestone for the project, one that will facilitate our modeling objectives into the future, as will the continued science being conducted on the Barrow Environmental Observatory. I would like to thank Cara Mousa who has helped post many of the blogs during this trip. She does a great job of supporting me and the project, and a real lifesaver when I am away from the office.
Also, not too many “Pics of the Week” but here are a few for your enjoyment.  David Graham (ORNL) contributed the photo of the lemming...thanks. And yes, they do play highschool football in Barrow. The season opener pitted the Barrow Whalers against the Homer Mariners. The playing field is easily within sight of the Arctic Ocean.
Be safe, be productive, and enjoy your science!