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22 April, 2002

Atqasuk, a small native village placed on the Meade River where the wind blows and the caribou roam. The village is tied to their cultural, rich past but living in the modernized world. The name Atqasuk itself has it's own story. Various spellings of Atqasuk are often used. This is due to the native, Inupiaq language being an oral language and not a written language. The word Atqasuk means "bridge of a nose" which refers to the appearance of Atqasuk's placement on the Alaska map.

Atqasuk is the first village since leaving Nome that has automobiles. The 300 residents use automobiles to drive around the small village. There is a rough, makeshift road that connects Atqasuk to Barrow. However, this road can only be used when it is plowed clear of snow. The snow can remain on the ground for nearly 7-9 months so traveling by automobiles is limited. Snowmachines align the streets and are used to travel across the snow-covered streets.

The Meade River school serves Atqasuk's 70 students grades k-12. The school is the central, meeting place for the residents of the village. This school as the other village schools is used for various activities. Basketball is the popular sport for the villages. It has become a very competitive sport between the village schools. The games can bring every person from the village to watch the action. The students travel to the away games not by bus but by airplane. Games become overnight trips that involve much enthusiasm and excitement.

Today, we had the wonderful opportunity of educating the students at Meade River School on snow science. Our equipment was set up in the school and all grade levels rotated around the stations learning about science measurements. Taylor McDaniel's middle school class has been taking weather measurements for the SnowSTAR 2002 team. Their weather accounts on snow depth, wind direction and speed, and temperature will be used to help us better understand the weather patterns in Alaska. Students had even placed a snow depth stake at their house, which the snow depth was recorded daily. We appreciate their diligent work!

Since the weather was cold but calm, we were able to take Taylor's middle school class and some high school students on a cold, snow science field trip. Transportation was not in the common form of a warm school bus but instead chilly snowmachines. Twelve students accompanied by the SnowSTAR team bundled up and rode double on snowmachines out to the Meade River. The Meade River is icy and covered by snow. The wind forms massive drifts along its banks. The Meade River drift has been surveyed every year for the past 26 years. Surveying the drift entails accurate depth measurements of the drift are recorded. These measurements allow the scientists to measure how the snow has changed from year to year due to snowfall and wind.

The students helped us measure the snow depth along the drift. The students also took SWE (snow water equivalence) samples and GPS/MagnaProbe measurements. They were able to experience a day in the life of a snow scientist!

WHERE IS MRS. CHEUVRONT???? LET'S PLOT!!! Still in Atqasuk!

Latitude: 70.47963 degrees North Longitude: 157.41816 degrees West

Temperature min: -25 degrees Celsius Temperature max: -15 degrees Celsius

Matthew Sturm


P.O. Box 35170

Ft. Wainwright, AK 99703

907-353-5183 msturm@crrel.usace.army.mil

Taylor McDaniel's students taking SWE measurements on the Meade River.

Students recording the depth for the SWE measurement.

The Meade River Drift. It measured 15 meters from the top of the drift to the bottom of the drift.

Ken and Eric measuring the depth of the Meade River Drift.

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