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5 February, 2002

Talks of tents, propane, gasoline, food, sleds, snow machines, batteries, computers, and lots of scientific equipment encompassed our morning. There is much planning involved in a 5 week, 700 mile snow machine traverse across Alaska. Matthew Sturm, Glen Liston, and Jon Holmgren are an amazing group of scientists that make a remarkable team. This trip is planned out very extensively. Not a single detail needs to be forgotten. You do not want to run out of gasoline, food or anything else in remote Alaska. Most importantly, you want to make sure that everything is carefully planned out so good scientific measurements can be taken. I am impressed with the teamís organization and thoroughness.

More measurements were taken today around Council. The forest site was visited. GPS, magna probe, and albedo measurements were taken. Shrubs were also tagged with numbers on metal plates. The shrubs are tagged for many reasons. When the shrubs are tagged, the snow depth is taken at the shrub along with the diameter of the shrub. This is all recorded on paper in a field book. The snow-shrub interaction is being studied. As the snow falls it accumulates on top of the shrubs, pushing the shrubs down. Snow will actually accumulate more around shrubs because the shrubs will hold the snow in. Whereas on the tundra, where there is open grass the snow blows away easily. Layers of snow begin to act as a quilt, insulating the ground. If there is more snow on the ground around the shrubs, then the ground will be warmer causing the shrubs to even grow more! These interactions are very important to notice change globally. The shrubs are also tagged so in the summer when there is no snow a scientist can come and study these same shrubs! So now the shrubs are labeled so they will not be forgotten! So 50 shrubs were tagged, labeled and their diameter and snow depth was recorded!

Our work in Council is about finished so tomorrow we will snow machine the 80 miles back to Nome. I will fly out of Nome tomorrow and arrive back to North Carolina Thursday. See you in school students on Friday!

And I will see Alaska and be ready for the long traverse in March!


The snow accumulates on top of the shrubs! The yellow instrument is the GPS unit.


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