7 August, 1997

Nevins Journal 08/07/97

Today started a little slowly because we had to wait for the chopper to finish some other runs. While the chopper was gone we worked out the fuel and weight requirements with Jeff who works to schedule the chopper time. Since the trip was to take out equipment and sensors, we needed to make the most of the time we had. The most important factors to the flight are Distance and weight. At first it began to appear that I would not be making the flight because of the weight of fuel needed to travel the distance. The total load as figured by the ground crew with the equipment, fuel, and passengers exceeded the capacity of the chopper. Question: I made the flight anyway. What did the ground crew and I forget that the pilot did not? We went up the hill at Toolik to the landing site and recieved a safety briefing done by the pilot and headed out to the most distant site. On the way there was the local herd of musk ox in the area of Happy Valley. (Happy Valley was a construction work camp when the pipeline was built but it is now abandoned.) When we arrived there was a pleasant surprise, the sensor masts that were to be removed, were not stuck in the permafrost and were easy to take apart. The four of us split up jobs and proceeded to dismantle the equipment and make active layer measurements. The active layer is the main area of interest for our group. The active layer of the permafrost is the portion of the frozen layer that thaws each year and what is being looked at in this study in the long term is to see if there is a change in the depth of thaw. It is thought that global warming will cause a change in the permafrost thickness and that this change might result in an increase of carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere there by increasing the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. On the way to the next site we passed over the original road built to the North Slope. This road was built without an adequate understanding of the problems associated with construction on permafrost. We removed a site on an Island in the Sag. River (Sag is a shortened version of the riverUs name.) The next was in sight of the road and pipeline and was a slightly different biome, An alder Savana. We decided to eat at our final sight on top of Imnavait Mountain after the sensors had been picked up. The approach was rather interesting. There were large numbers of caribou on the mountain and we disturbed them. We were able to work close to the caribou for a little while as our landing did not completely spook the animals. What a view, to the North a low coastal plane and to the south the Brooks Range. I was not able to photograph the view as it is much to wide a view for my little camera. Spectacular is a good discriptor. When we came back, the data from the loggers was downloaded to the computers and Jeremy entered field measurements into a spreadsheet, just as we finished the data transfer, dinner was ready so we took a break. After dinner we met with Sam, Jim Bockheim, Kim Peterson, Laura Mueller, Anna, Jeremy, and myself. I went to the lab to set up with equipment for another experiment. We have a slight problem with the electrical contact on the probe thirmister and so we decided to set up another experiment that will look for an evaporative cooling effect in a formation known as a pulsa. It is 12:00 now and I need to call it a day so that I can get up early for the trip to plots 3 and 4, a moist acidic tundra and a moist nonacidic tundra. Good night.

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