5 April, 1999

5 April 1999

Follow-up to the Summer 1998 Deering Archeological Excavation

Aerosonde in Action--Global Climate Change Comes Home to Barrow in a Talk by Dr. Jim Maslanik

Tim's Journal:

There is a little more Activity at the ARF (Arctic Research Facility) this morning. Wildlife Biologists are starting to drift in from all over to parcticipate in the whale census. We are off this morning with Bernie Zak of ARM (Atmospheric Radiation Monitoring) to look at his Aerosonde program. Zak has brought in an Australian team who will be flying small-unmanned remote controlled airplanes over the Arctic Ocean. These high-tech robots collect weather data and transmit it back to Barrow and ARM's waiting equipment. These planes can travel up to 4000km and stay in the air for up to 40 hours. The great advantage of the Aerosonde is that unlike a weather balloon the Aerosonde can be sent to pin-point locations and can return.

We spent the first part of our afternoon making contacts with Arctic researchers, and the rest of our afternoon getting ready for our presentations. In the next two days we have five presentations to make at the Barrow high school, one live radio interview on radio station KBRW and a public talk in the North Slope Borough Assembly Room.

In the evening we are taken by Glenn Sheehan of BASC (Barrow Arctic Science Consortium) to a talk at the North Slope Borough Assembly room. The talk entitled "Record Reductions In The Western Arctic Sea Ice Cover In 1998" was given by Dr. Jim Maslanik a sea ice researcher and climatologist from the University of Colorado. Dr. Maslanik explained that 6 of the 10 smallest ice covers in the Arctic Basin have occurred in the past decade. He went on to state that in 1998 Arctic ice was 25% less than the previous minimum. Dr. Maslanik stopped short of any long-range predictions, but he did say that in the last decade Arctic ice has seen reductions that average between 2 and 3 percent per year.

Aaron's Addendum:

The Aerosondes were by far the highlight of the day. These model airplanes with ten-foot wingspans are able to fly across the Atlantic. The ARM project was just a piece of all the research, of which archaeology is only part, going on in Barrow. It is really neat to be able to see where the actual science that we spend so much time reading about or watching on television is actually being carried out. These are the real scientists that are trying to determine, among other things, what the climate is doing, what we are doing to the climate, how the atmosphere is behaving, how the wildlife is responding, et cetera. In keeping with this global climate change theme, even our archaeology fits in with the discoveries by studying the way of life of those living long before the industrial revolution and its ramifications. Dr. Jim Maslanik's talk about arctic sea ice reductions was punctuated time and again by his wish for knowledge concerning ice cover before his earliest data of 1954, which can be hinted at through the use of accurate archaeology.

Not only the scientific proliferation but also concern was demonstrated tonight as Dr. Maslanik spoke to concerned members of Barrow about the sea ice. It was certainly interesting to see science come full circle, from the actual data collection to its presentation to those who most feel its effects and harbor the ability to usher its amelioration.

Aaron with the Aerosonde.

The Aerosonde.

Sleds and snow machines for the whale survey.

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