1 July, 2001
Spent most of the day in the lab doing paperwork. Today we finished fixing and getting the instruments ready for Mondays' (tomorrow) diurnal. The cuvette has a re-taped base, thank goodness for duct tape; hopefully this will seal off the leaks. The outside CO2 air has to be kept out of the cuvette. Water level measurements were once again taken at the site this morning. We measure the depth from the top of the 4inch pump hole to water level and the depth of the top of the pump hole to the tundra to keep track of the vegetation cover. This is to make sure the dry and wet plots are staying that way.
NARL has quieted down over the week. Where previous to this there were quite a few project teams here they have completed their work and left. A number will return towards the end of the season to collect data that is being recorded in their absences. We, SDSU, Cal St.LA (Stan and Erika), Atushi, from Japan, who is studying methane and the Michigan State team are the only ones left, approximately 20 people. This is down from the approximately 45 people here in mid-June.
We went exploring last night. While Barrow is the farthest northern village in the arctic above it to the north is Point Barrow, a sandy, gravely spit of land about 3 miles out of town which is truely the farthest north one can go in the US. A 4-wheeler can make the trip out to the Point but not having one we, 6 of us, hiked out at 10pm. The sun never sets so hiking at 10pm or 10 am really doesn't matter. It took us 3 hours there and back and the weather was perfect, bright sun, clear skies and little to no wind.
The 2-mile spit is used by the local people as a dumping area for the carcasses of the whales and other animals they hunt. It is thought that dragging the unused portions of meat here will attract and keep the polar bears out of the town. Every year the town bulldozes the season's carcasses into the ocean and replaces them with the left over of the current year's hunts. Because of the low temperatures the meat does not rot as fast nor smell as bad as one might expect. At the very Point, near the whale pile, we found fresh polar bear tracks which made us feel somewhat glad we had brought the two, 12 gauge shot guns. On the way back we could see seals relaxing on the ice near their air holes. They are really what the bears are after now.
In the late 1800s, early 1900s Barrow and the Point Barrow were important whaling stops for the East and West coasts whaling companies. Many ships would stop over in the area bringing supplies and restocking provisions along with much desired mail from home. There also would be many shipwrecks. A temporary emergency station was set up on the Point for rescuing seamen who found themselves in trouble. All that is left of those historic times are the gravesites of whalers who died here. Some weathered and worn wooden headstones reveal names and years most of which are before 1915. Because of frost heaving very little stays buried in the tundra permanently and the grave areas are strune with bones both animal and human, while the edges of caskets peek up above the ground. The local graveyards look the same, crooked fences surround the sites and mounds are everywhere rather than the flat, manicured look of the graveyards down south.
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