8 July, 2001
Another day of cold, gray skies along with flurries all day. This is summer in Barrow! I'd rather it snow than rain if I have to be out working so all was fine with me!
Sunday starts out with brunch at 11:30. Most everybody gets to sleep in and it is well deserved and anticipated! Last night we had our movie night and watched "Quills". Joe's DVD player turns the Racquetball Court into a multiplex (almost) cinema minus the cup holders and the reclining seats.
I found some papers Michelle had completed the first week she was here. What she did was color code data collected in 1998 that recorded the plants and the microclimate present at each of the 10meter and 20 meter flag points of the tower transects. I thought it might be interesting to update the information now, 3 years later, to see if any changes in either area occurred. Things do now change very quickly here and this would be a way of finding out what has and hasn't changed and to see if there are any trends occurring. So, for my final 2 weeks project, I will be doing that along with helping Glen at his site. Identifying species at Glen's site the past weeks helps now with identifying the species present at the transect points (and I never thought I'd used my new found knowledge of Arctic plant species again!).
Glen went out with Lety and I today to get us started. Lety was once again taking LiCor measurements at all her sites. Glen was at his site watering the tundra! He has plots, which need to be at a higher water level than the control plots so he literally has to haul water out there to keep the levels high!
I started walking the tower transects making observations of the plants and microclimate every 10 meters for 20 flags and then every 20 meters for 10 flags. Like anything at first glance a project looks simple and straightforward. When you actually start doing the task all the little, hidden complexities appear and things aren't as simple as they originally appeared! After finding the correct transect, there are 7, and comparing my observations to the originals I figured I needed some tutorials on microclimates. Glen is going out with me tomorrow to go over the difference between a flat centered, high-centered and low-centered ice-wedge polygons for starters. What's a polygon you ask? There was an arial shot I took from the plane a few weeks ago showing tundra polygons. They are the distinct, many-sided shapes the tundra takes due to the freeze-thaw cycles that the soil undergoes here.
Walking the transects I had time and opportunity to take flower pictures and also found some other treasures along the way.
An interesting note here about the lemming population. Among all of us in the field we haven't seen more than 5 lemmings total this season. Lemmings are small rodents that look like fat, furry, mice without the long tail. They are a favorite food of snowy owls and some years they are present in large numbers. This is a bad year for lemmings and hence a year for few to no sightings of snowy owls. The local paper reported that no new nests had been found and the two owls, which have been tracked for the past years, came and left Barrow without nesting. Another example of prey populations controlling predator populations.
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