Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Another Year Comes to a Close…

It has been a great year for the NGEE Arctic team. We travelled to the Seward Peninsula in western Alaska and selected a set of southern field sites for 2016; we were reviewed by our sponsors at the Department of Energy and approved for another three years of field, laboratory, and modeling studies; and as of this week we closed down much of the field research in Barrow, Alaska.

I flew into Anchorage last Monday and enjoyed the winter scenery from my window, before making the additional 3 hour flight north to Barrow. Bryan and Alex, both from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory joined me on Tuesday. Knowing that we would have limited daylight and possible cold temperatures we allocated 5 days to disassembling the NGEE Arctic tram and transporting other instruments back to Barrow for winter storage.

The bulk of our time was spent taking down the tram which consisted of removing the instrumented cart along with 65 meters of rail and supporting posts. Because of its design the tram was quickly disassembled and, once secured on sleds, everything was transported back to storage facilities in Barrow. We did the same for instruments on the eddy covariance tower, the geophysical ERT array, and then miscellaneous bits and pieces of equipment that we have in the field. This included several solar panels that we use during the field season to trickle-charge batteries used in the micro-warming experiment.

An extra day was spent working with Bob Busey back in Fairbanks to measure data transmission rates from various locations on the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO) back to computers at the Barrow Arctic Research Center (BARC). Every year we find ourselves transmitting more and more data and we want to be sure that we are being efficient in getting data from the field to investigators at our partner institutions in New York, Nebraska, and California. We will analyze transmission rates in the weeks to come and make decisions as to whether we should upgrade wireless capabilities at our field sites in the spring.

For now, 2015 comes to a close. I expect to return to Barrow in January or February and then the larger team will probably return in April or early May to reinstall the tram and other instruments. Those activities will mark the beginning of our fifth year of research in the Arctic.