Thursday, November 6, 2014

Taking Down the Tram…

Last May the NGEE Arctic team designed, built, and assembled a 65-meter long tram on the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO). The tram consisted of supports, rails, and a motorized cart that carried energy and radiation sensors back and forth across the tundra every 3 hours. It has been operating all summer with few problems. The reliability of the tram is a testament to those who designed the system – Keith Lewin, Bryan Curtis, and Paul Cook. Nice job guys!

Today we set about taking down the rails, supports, and cart for the winter. Keith and Bryan are going to redesign a few things over the winter and add a sensor or two. This will require strengthening the overall infrastructure and reprogramming some of the software. Although this could be done in the field, it makes sense to remove everything now (as per our North Slope Borough (NSB) permit and other safety considerations) and reassemble the new and improved system in the spring before snowmelt.

So, first thing this morning we set about strategically removing clamps that held the rails, and the few nuts and bolts that held the vertical supports. This literally took less than an hour. It was a pretty impressive design with considerable thought given to how the tram could be quickly assembled, and dissembled, in harsh weather. The hardest part was transporting the 16 foot rails and upright supports back to our storage facilities in Barrow. Sleds made this bearable and once everything was strapped in place, John and Bryan could run them back to town in 30 minutes. Two trips were required to get everything safely transported and stored until next spring.

Everyone was glad to have this completed before the end of the day. The winds kicked up to 20 miles per hour this afternoon and the wind chills dropped below -10F. Wind speeds are forecast to increase overnight and into tomorrow so this was a task we were glad to check off our list.