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21 April, 2002

We are now traveling across Alaska's arctic coastal plain. This area is very flat and covered by many, many lakes. In fact, about 40% of the land here is covered by lakes. These lakes are typically small, less than a kilometer in diameter. As we drive along, these lakes are frozen and snow-covered, just like the surrounding tundra. Both the tundra and lakes are so flat that it is usually difficult to tell whether we are driving over land or water.

These lakes are typically very shallow, with about 85% of them being less than 2 meters deep. By the end of winter the lake ice is about 2 meters thick. So this means that 85% of them are frozen solid by the end or winter. This means that 85% of the lakes probably do not have fish in them, and that 85% of the lakes could not be used as a winter fresh-water supply by local residents.

When these lakes freeze solid, the bottom of the lake ice sticks to the bottom of the lake. When the lakes melt in the spring, this means that the ice stays stuck to the lake bed, and there is water over the top of the ice when it is melting. This is different from most lakes, because ice usually floats (like an ice cube in your glass of iced tea). So, the big visual difference between how a normal lake melts and how these arctic lakes melt, is that a normal lake has white ice floating at the surface, while

the ice on these arctic Alaska lakes are a spectacularly-beautiful green color as they melt under the water surface.


Latitude: 70.47963 North

Longitude: 157.41816 West

The wind was calm today. The cold felt refreshing. Cold is manageable. Wind is hurtful. We performed 6 abbreviated tundra/lake pairs today. One class 2 chemical sampling was performed. Our machines jostled and bumped along the tundra and across the lakes. We were in coastal plains area. The lakes are numerous connected by rivers. The caribou roam in small herds across the snow covered landscape. The team is tired. We have traveled over 760 miles. We have some 80+ miles to travel to Barrow. We reached Atqasuk which sets along the Meade River. It sits outright and alone in this white world. This is the first civilization since Ambler. Tonight we are refreshed resting in a house in Atqasuk. The team has done extremely well. It feels good to have showers and a warm place to sleep after 2 weeks in the cold Arctic field.

Temperature min: -28 degrees Celsius Temperature max: -16 degrees Celsius

One of the many icy, snow covered lakes that we have crossed.

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