Friday, November 7, 2014

Organize and then Out to the Tundra…

This morning we met at our storage building and set about organizing materials and supplies that we either brought in from the field yesterday or that had accumulated throughout the summer. Bryan and Keith shouldered most of the burden, but made good use of the time to also make sure that they had everything they needed to update the electronics and controls for the tram. We brought back the unit that powered and controlled the automated tram earlier in the week and now will spend a few days improving the operation and reliability of the system for deployment later in the week. It is great that UMIAQ, our logistics provider, has a lot of floor space where we can spread out and sort through all that we have brought to Barrow.

While Bryan and Keith were busy in the storage area, John, Ori, Naama and I headed out for a day of field research. Once again we relied on snow machines and sleds to transport all our instruments and equipment. Once at our field site we were treated to an amazing sunrise at 10:45am. Compared to the cloudy weather that we have had to date, today was sunny and windy. We quickly got to work. John and I started by collecting permafrost cores while Ori and Naama continued to measure CO2 and CH4 flux from several transects. John and I needed to collect nine cores associated with plots that Lydia (LBNL) is measuring as part of her PhD dissertation research. We were successful in collecting six cores before sunset at 3:45pm. It was interesting to see the upper 10 to 15 cm of active layer soil had frozen already, but that underlying soils down to 35 to 40 cm were still unfrozen. This presented a challenge of getting the cores out of the barrel of the SIPRE, as the soils immediately began to freeze in the SIPRE once brought up into the air. This proved to be an unexpected complication and slowed us down. John and I will need to get the remaining three cores tomorrow. These cores will be shipped back to UC Berkeley where Lydia will be analyzing them for SOM, carbon content, and 14C dating.

While John and I collected cores, Naama and Ori gathered data on CO2 and CH4 fluxes. They moved methodically across the tundra, letting the equipment equilibrate, and then making flux measurements over a 4 to 6 minute period. These data will be added to other data collected throughout the season. It should be a great dataset and one that will help us as we seek to improve models, especially climate models for the Arctic.